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.