Monthly Archives: July 2019

XXV AOS World Congress Announcement

14th July 2019 from the Vatican

100 years 1920-2020 Supporting Seafarers, Fishers and their Families

Re: XXV World Congress Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea and the Centennial Celebration

Dear Bishops Promoters, Regional Coordinators, National Directors, Chaplains and Volunteers,

As it is recorded by Peter Anson: “A meeting took place in the Catholic Institute, Cochrane Street, [Glasgow] at 8 p.m. on October 4th, [1920] during which the revival of ship-visiting in riverside parishes was discussed.” That night in Glasgow a new era for the Catholic ministry to seafarers began.

The Popes who succeeded in guiding the Church have always blessed and encouraged the growth of this Apostolate.

Pope Pius XI blessed and approved the first Constitution in a letter dated 22 April 1922 “With the certain knowledge that so noble an initiative, capably supported by the zeal of priestly soul, …, will spread more and more along the seacoasts of the two hemispheres…”.

On September 1956, Pope Pius XII referring to the Apostleship of the Sea said: “We are very much consoled to learn how seamen reaching the world’s ports are becoming accustomed to look for the help you are prepared to give them. Besides offering them the spiritual benefits of religion, you extend your Apostleship to social service; and you do well.”

While Pope John XXIII stated that “This particular situation of the maritime world demands your action…it is desirable that seamen be helped to lead an authentic Catholic life within their milieu. And it is a sure for us to congratulate you on the good work that you have already accomplished to make more easy the knowledge of Christ…”

Pope Paul VI, to the people of the sea in Cagliari on 24 April 1970, said: “… as seafarers, as men, as Christians: the network of the Apostolate of the Sea, now extended to so many ports in the world, does not leave you alone, expects you and assists you; you know that.”

Pope John Paul II in 1982 to the participants of the XVII World Congress in Rome affirmed that “The Church wishes to bring all the baptized to a fuller and more systematic knowledge of the person and message of Jesus Christ. In fulfilling this mission to seafarers, you face a most challenging and difficult task.”

In 2012 Pope Benedict XVI addressed the participants of the XXIII World Congress in Rome with the following words: “The vulnerability of seafarers, fishermen and sailors calls for an even more attentive solicitude on the Church’s part and should stimulate the motherly care that, through you, she expresses to all those whom you meet in ports and on ships or whom you help on board during those long months at sea.”

And more recently Pope Francis on July 2018 said at the Angelus: “I pray for them (seafarers and fishermen] and their families, as well as for the chaplains and volunteers of the Apostleship of the Sea. I offer a special thought to those who experience humiliating working conditions at sea and to those who work to free the seas from pollution.”

From the initial group of people who gathered in Glasgow and of whom we know only three names (Peter F. Anson an Anglican convert, Arthur Gannon and Bro. Daniel Shields SJ), today the Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea, is serving seafarers, fishers and their families, around the world, with a global outreach in 261 ports in 55 countries worldwide with over 200 port chaplains and hundreds of ship visitors and volunteers.

One hundred years have passed and this ministry has grown and adjusted to the continuous changes of the maritime industry remaining faithful to the initial mission “to reveal Christ to those who go down the sea in ships, and do business in great waters, with the object of bringing them to a deeper knowledge of Christ and his Church”.

With this letter, I wish to announce the XXV World Congress of the Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea and its Centenary Celebration from the 29th September to the 4th October 2020 in Glasgow – Scotland.

I would like to invite our ecumenical partners, international maritime organizations, representatives from Governments, the shipping industry and civic society to “save the date” and make plans to join our chaplains, volunteers and other personnel for this important event.

The Centenary will be an occasion to remember the past and give thanks for all the people who over the past one hundred years have served the people of the sea, to celebrate the present and to chart the future of our ministry in responding to the evolving needs of seafarers, fishers and their families.

We would like to invite the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences, Bishops Promoters, Regional Coordinators, National Directors, Chaplains and Volunteers around the world to organize at regional, national and local level celebrations to mark this important event. All these activities will increase awareness and interest in our ministry that will culminate in the XXV World Congress of the Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea and the Centennial Celebration in Glasgow next year.

May Mary, Star of the Sea, guide your actions and bless all chaplains and volunteers who will be involved in these events.

Sincerely yours
+ Cardinal Peter K. A. Turkson.
Prefect
Dicastery For Promoting Integral Human Development

Message for Sea Sunday 2019

14 July 2019

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ and beloved chaplains, volunteers, friends and supporters of the Apostleship of the Sea,

Though we do not realize it, the work of seafarers is essential for our daily lives because most of the possessions that we have in our houses, the television, the fridge, the washing machine, computer and phone, not to mention the fuel for our cars, the clothes we wear, and many other items are all made in distant parts of the world and brought to us by air or by sea. So, it is proper that we pause for a moment to reflect on how important and crucial seafarers are for our comfort and well-being.

For this reason, in various Christian Churches around the world the second Sunday of July is traditionally set aside as Sea Sunday. The faithful are requested to remember and pray for the 1.5 million seafarers who crisscross the oceans and the seas, transporting almost 90% of goods from one nation to another.

The life of seafarers, although it could appear attractive and interesting in the eyes of some people, because they sail around the world visiting numerous countries, is in reality full of challenges and hardships.

For their whole contract, seafarers are forced to live in the confined space of a vessel, for months at a time, away from their families and loved ones. Often their salaries are delayed and at least in one case, national legislation prevented seafarers from receiving cash while on board, leaving them penniless for the duration of their contract. Fast turnaround times in ports prevents them from going ashore to relax and release tensions from some of toughest working conditions, aggravated by the continuous threat of piracy and now also by the risk of terrorist attacks. In the case of maritime accidents, seafarers are often criminalized and detained without effective legal protection and the benefit of fair treatment. In a precarious mix of nationalities, cultures and religions the opportunities to interact socially with reduced number of crew members on board have diminished.

Isolation and depression, combined with a lack of a supportive environment, affects the mental health of seafarers, sometimes with tragic and heart-breaking consequences for their families, crew members and ship-owners.

We acknowledge that with the ratification and implementation of several international Conventions and legislation, working and living conditions on board a great number of commercial vessels have improved. However, we cannot deny that in many parts of the world, where unscrupulous ship owners take advantage of less stringent enforcement of the law, the above-mentioned issues still strongly affect the life of many seafarers and their families.

Once again, I would like to call on International Organizations together with proper government authorities and the different players of the maritime world to renew their efforts to protect and safeguard the rights of all people working at sea.

I would like to encourage the chaplains and volunteers of Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea during their daily ship visits to be vigilant and to approach each seafarer and fisher with the same committed spirit that animated the pioneers of our ministry when almost hundred years ago, on 4th October 1920, they decided to revive and restructure the widespread ministry of the Catholic Church for the people of the sea.

In the faces of seafarers from different nations, I invite you to recognize the face of Christ in your midst. In the confusion of languages, I recommend that you speak the language of Christian love that welcomes everyone and excludes no one. Confronted with abuses, I urge you not be afraid to denounce injustices and comment “to work together to build the common good and a new humanism of work, to promote work that respects the dignity of the person who does not only look at profit or production needs but promotes a dignified life knowing that the good of the people and the good of the company go hand in hand” (Pope Francis, 7 September 2018).

Finally, let us entrust your ministry to Mary, Star of the Sea, that she continues to strengthen, inspire and guide every action of chaplains and volunteers and to extend her maternal protection and assistance to all the people of the sea.

Sincerely yours
+ Cardinal Peter K. A. Turkson
Prefect
Dicastery For Promoting Integral Human Development

Prayer for Sea Sunday 2019

14th July 2019

O God most tender Father, endless sea,
We thank you for the work of the million and a half seafarers, who sail the oceans and the seas, transporting about 90% of goods from one country to another, contributing to our comfort and well-being.

You know that their lives are full of challenges and difficulties. Fast turnaround in ports prevents them from going ashore to relax and release tension caused by their difficult working conditions, aggravated by the continuous threat of piracy and now also by the risk of terrorist attacks.

Support them with Your blessing in their work, which forces them to live in the confined space of a ship, for months at a time, away from their families and loved ones, sometimes not getting their own wages.

The presence of chaplains and volunteers in ports is a constant reminder of Your paternity and of the fact that we are all sons and brothers before you; it is a reminder to the primary value of the human person before and above all interest.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, Divine Helmsman,
as the Father sent you, so you today continue to send the chaplains to bring Your Good News to the complex and varied maritime world. Make their hearts similar to yours, so that with compassion and discretion they will listen to the material and spiritual concerns of seafarers and fishermen. Through Your gift may they open horizons of hope, sowing with full hands Your mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which gives peace to the heart.

Holy Spirit, which hovers over the waters of the sea,
assist the chaplains and the volunteers of the Apostleship of the Sea so that, during their daily visits on board, they be vigilant and approach each seafarer and fisher with empathy, pastoral creativity and tenderness.

Let them recognize in the faces of seafarers of various nationalities the face of Your Son, Jesus Christ, making them able to speak the language of love that welcomes each and every one.

By your grace, through their apostolate, the isolation and depression of seafarers can be avoided; combined with the lack of a supportive environment, they can affect their mental health, sometimes with tragic and heartbreaking consequences for their families, crew members and ship-owners.

Give them light and strength to promote work that respects the dignity of the person and the prophetic boldness of denouncing the injustices of unscrupulous shipowners, who in many parts of the world make the working conditions on board ships intolerable. Let them redouble their efforts to confront issues that are too often the fruit of human greed: human trafficking and forced labor.

Give wisdom and discernment to International Organizations, government authorities and the different players of the maritime industry, to renew their efforts to protect and safeguard the rights of all people working at sea. Ensure that in the case of accidents at sea, seafarers are no longer criminalized and detained without effective legal protection and the benefit of fair treatment.

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Stella Maris,
strengthens, inspires and guides every action of chaplains and volunteers and extend Your maternal protection to all the people of the sea. Glory, praise and honor to you, Father, who through your Son Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit guide us to the harbor of all our hopes among difficulties and misfortunes.
Amen. Alleluia!

Inspired by the Message of the Dicastery for the Service of Human Integral Development and the Address of the Holy Father to the participants at the Meeting for Chaplains and Volunteers of Stella Maris – Apostleship of the Sea, 27.06.2019.

XXV AOS World Congress Preparation

14th July 2019 from the Vatican

To the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences
To the Bishops Promoters
To the Regional Coordinators
To the National Directors
To the Chaplains and Volunteers

Suggestions in preparation for the Centennial
Below you will find some proposals (everyone should feel free to implement and realize any of them, according to the national and local situation of the Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea). Additional suggestions will be shared in the future. They could help to plan and increase awareness of the importance of service to the people of the sea using the unique occasion of the Centenary Celebration. It is understood that to organize and coordinate all the different activities it is necessary to constitute a Committee composed of people who are part of the ministry and experienced in the maritime industry.

Opening of the year in preparation of the Centennial
The preparation of the Centennial of the foundation of the Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea will run from 4th October 2019 to 4th October 2020. We would like to encourage everyone to celebrate this occasion with a special celebration or with a very simple ceremony in all the Stella Maris Centers or in any church in the Diocese. All the activities and events organized during this year at national and local level should aim to rediscover the history of our ministry, strengthen what has been done, increase awareness of the importance of service to the people of the sea in the local church and eventually start new projects.

  • To be continuously reminded of this important event it is suggested to create a countdown clock from October 4, 2019 to October 4, 2020. The countdown clock can be displayed in the Stella Maris Centers, offices, schools and places where general public, seafarers, fishers and their families usually pass by.

Universal intention of prayer of the Holy Father
The Apostleship of Prayer to which the initial history of the Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea is intrinsically connected has decided that the universal intention of prayer of the Holy Father for the month of August 2020 is dedicated to:

The Maritime World: We pray for all those who work and live from the sea, among them sailors, fishermen and their families.

  • We would like to request chaplains and volunteers, particularly during this month, to preach and share their personal reflections and experiences about the ministry and invite people to pray in a special way for our apostolate and the people whom we serve.

Celebration of a monthly Stella Maris Mass.
Our Lady Star of the Sea, or Stella Maris, has long been the title under which the people of the sea have called on the Virgin Mary for her motherly intercession. She is also considered the patroness of the Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea. The Mass may be celebrated as a votive Mass of Our Lady on Saturday, or on any appropriate day that is not a Sunday or other solemnity, and most appropriately on the Stella Maris feast day itself (the last Thursday of September).

  • In order to promote the devotion to Our Lady Star of the Sea “Stella Maris” and entrust the people of the sea and the Maritime Apostolate to Her motherly protection, we strongly encourage chaplains to celebrate this mass frequently and mark the feast day in an appropriate way (eg. organize a pilgrimage to a Marian Sanctuary specifically for seafarers, fishers and their families, print and distribute different images of Mary Star of the Sea with a prayer at the back, distribute rosaries and foster among the seafarers and their families the Marian prayer, etc.).

Celebration of the Centennial with our partners in the maritime industry.
It is important to highlight the contribution that national/international government agencies, civil societies, funding agencies, unions, maritime organizations, ecumenical partners and individuals have had in the growth and development of each Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea.

  • We would like to suggest that at regional, national and local level celebrations are organized to give thanks for the 100 years of Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea inviting the most significant partners of our ministry, including seafarers, fishers and their families. During the celebration it would be proper to recognize their contribution to the development of maritime apostolate in the country.
  • In Centers where we work with other Christians denominations, we suggest organizing specific occasions of ecumenical prayer to reiterate the commitment of Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea to work in partnership with others.
  • To remain faithful to the mission of being the voice of the voiceless it might be appropriate to mark the Centenary with a Seminar/Symposium on maritime welfare to promote and defend the human and labour rights of the people of the sea.
  • A Centennial Year Award ceremony could be held to recognize the commitment and dedication of organizations and individuals who thanks to their dedication, generosity and support, have contributed to the development and growth of the Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea at the National, Diocesan and local level.

To the Bishops Conferences and the Apostleship of the Sea Bishop Promoters
In order to increase the awareness among the Christian faithful and stress the importance of this ministry at the service of the people of the sea, during this Centennial Year, we would like to appeal in a particular way to all the Bishops Conferences and the Apostleship of the Sea Bishop Promoters.

  • To give particular prominence to Sea Sunday on July 12, 2020 organizing a celebration in all the Dioceses of the country because even the non-coastal Dioceses benefit from the hard work of seafarers and it is essential they are aware of this ministry.
  • Where it is not yet done, on the occasion of the Centennial, during Sea Sunday (July 12, 2020) we strongly suggest to have an extraordinary collection to start/support the Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea in the country.
  • To invite Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea chaplains and volunteers to share their ministry during meetings of Bishops, clergy and other pastoral gatherings.
  • Not to limit the celebration of the Centennial only to a series of beautiful events, we would like to suggest that in 2020 a “Centennial Project” be realized within the country or Diocese as a concrete and tangible sign of the commitment and dedication of the Church to the service of the people of the sea.
  • An old quote says: If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going. The Centennial celebration could be the occasion to rediscover history. We encourage, where is not yet done, the commission of a research and write the history of the Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea in your country or Dioceses. These different histories would reveal the continuous and universal motherly care that the Church has provided to the people of the sea even before the Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea was reorganized and structured in 1920. We would ask you to bring your history to Glasgow to be celebrated together because each individual history is essential for our Centennial celebration.

Social Media and other activities.
Where it is possible, utilize in a regular fashion both the social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.) and mass-media (diocesan newsletters, parish bulletins, newspapers and magazines, local TV stations, etc.) for interviews, to share news, articles and information about the Centennial celebration and the Stella Maris/Apostleship the Sea mission to society at large.

  • To inform seafarers, fishers and their families about the global history of the Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea and the Centennial celebration.
  • Prepare a series of articles/interviews explaining what the mission of a chaplain or a volunteer is.
  • To request seafarers, fishers and their families to write and share their personal experience regarding the role that Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea played in a particular moment of their life.
  • With the creation of specific learning material to involve government/parish Catholic schools and other organizations to know more about the maritime world and the ministry performed by Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea for the welfare and wellbeing of the people of the sea.
  • Where possible, to invite small groups of people for a ship visit to let them experience first-hand life on board.
  • Organize a visit and mass on board, presided over by the Local Bishop, to show the specific concern and care of the Church for the people of the sea.
  • Reach out to bring comfort and assistance to seafarers, fishers and their families who are living in situations of neglect and marginalization such as abandonment, detention and hospitalization.

The Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea office within the Dicastery for Promoting Human Integral Development would be grateful if you would share your plans or suggest new initiatives to mark the Centennial. Furthermore, we remain available to assist and support the realization of any of these events.