Tag Archives: Seafarers

Giving thanks to seafarers around world

Fr Roger Manalo

Fr Roger Manalo

As Catholic parishes throughout Australia prepare to celebrate Sea Sunday on 9 July 2017, it is timely to reflect on the vital work of the tens of thousands of seafarers who visit our ports each year – and the ministry of the Apostleship of the Sea which supports them. Lindy McNamara* reports.

Life at sea for crew members aboard a cargo ship or fishing vessel can be a lonely existence at times. Separated from family and friends for months at a time, often working in dangerous weather conditions, there is little wonder that feelings of isolation and depression are common.

However, the Apostleship of the Sea Catholic ministry (AOS) offers a ‘beacon of light’ to seafarers around the world by providing pastoral support for their ‘spiritual, social and material’ welfare. In Australia there are 15 AOS port chaplains / centre managers and more than 160 volunteers supporting the estimated 130,000 seafarers who transit the nation’s 25 ports each year through these centres. Continue reading

Parishes called to acknowledge the vital role of Seafarers “in the midst of the storm”

ACBC_Seafarer Banner 200 x 200 px v.2Parishes across Australia are called to support the work of Seafarers as part of the annual Sea Sunday Appeal on 9 July. Every dollar raised will help to provide pastoral support for seafaring men, women and their families through the works of Stella Maris centres across Australia.

Seafarers commonly face mental health challenges such as; depression, anxiety or thoughts of suicide given the nature of their work; long hours in highly pressured environments with quick turnarounds at port before heading back out to sea.

Working as crew on board a cruise ship or industrial container tanker can involve long journeys being away from home and unable to see family for weeks and months at a time. As a result, Seafarers often experience isolation, cultural barriers with fellow crew and fatigue.

The Bishops of Australia and Sea Chaplains recognise that loneliness and the mental health of Seafarers is a serious concern and a recurring theme amongst those working in the industry. Therefore the theme of this year’s Sea Sunday Appeal is ‘In the midst of the storm’ focusing on the importance of addressing mental health concerns and providing the necessary emotional, psychological and spiritual support to Seafarers who may well be experiencing ‘stormy times’ mentally.

In advance of Sea Sunday, Bishop Bosco Puthur, Australian Catholic Bishops Delegate for Seafarers highlighted the importance of supporting Seafarers who may be experiencing mental health challenges, ‘Our Sea Chaplains know that many Seafarers struggle with mental health conditions. In many cases, loneliness and isolation can be contributing factors to feelings of anxiety, depression or thoughts of suicide. It is important that our Sea Chaplains are resourced to support those working on board. The Sea Sunday Appeal helps us to provide some of the necessary support.’

Currently, ninety per cent of Australia’s trade involves shipping with more than one million Seafarers on the world’s oceans at any one time. While life at sea can be exciting, Seafarers can encounter poor and dangerous working conditions, mental health issues, family isolation and piracy with crews and ships being held hostage.

There are 25 ports operating across Australia supported by 15 Apostleship of the Sea Chaplains or centre managers. The Apostleship relies heavily on generous volunteers, of which there are approximately 160, who live out their faith by welcoming the stranger.

To make a donation supporting the Sea Sunday Appeal, simply transfer funds online to: Stella Maris Seafarers Centre, BSB: 083-347 and Account Number: 649518680 with the reference, ‘Sea Sunday Appeal’.

Parishes called to acknowledge the vital role of Seafarers in the Year of Mercy

On Sea Sunday 10 July, Catholic parishes throughout Australia will acknowledge the vital role of over 130,000 Seafarers who transit through Australia’s 25 ports while working at sea and the associated, dedicated port chaplains and volunteers. The parish support will be generated through a collection based on the annual, national Sea Sunday appeal.

Last year approximately 20,000 vessels visited Australia. Many of these received support from 15 Apostleship of the Sea Port Chaplains and over 164 Apostleship of the Sea volunteers. In the past twelve months, support was provided to 276 Seafarers who were hospitalised in Australia as a result of a medical emergency or an injury from a vessel at sea. These seafarers are isolated when admitted to hospital and remote from family. The Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) reconnects these sick or injured seafarers with family and continues to support them until discharged, ensuring personal needs are met where possible. Continue reading