Latest Appeal

Holy Family Appeal 

The families left behind
                  Paul Atkinson, Apostleship of the Sea chaplain to the ports of Tyne and Blyth, says that one of the hardest things for seafarers is being away from their families. 
                  On one cruise ship I visited, I met an Indian cook who was wearing one of those tall white hats. As we were talking, I noticed he had a small number 25 written on the back of it. When I asked him what the number meant, he said, “Sir, every day I wear a new hat and it means
it’s one less day before I go home.” 
                 All seafarers miss being away from home and miss their families. For example, I meet many Filipino seafarers who are very family oriented. They are always happy to talk about their wives and children and seem to get great satisfaction and pride from doing so. They just
look ahead and count down the days until “It’s my time” to go home.
                 On the DFDS ferries they have a safety drill every week and the crew always tell me, “Paul, its only three more boat drills until I go home.” 
Paul Atkinson is Apostleship of the Sea's Tyne port chaplain

                Seafarers talk about missing their children growing up. If they have a nine to twelve months’ contract, they miss every other year of the children’s development. This is very hard for them and their families. 
                The internet is now the number one request when we visit ships. Phone sims and top ups are also popular. I have two mobile Wi-fi devices I take on board and I allow the crew to use them for free so they can contact home via Skype or Facebook
Seafarers are always so happy and delighted with this service. It helps them cope with their long separation from loved ones whilst they earn money to support them back home, amongst other things paying for school and medical fees.
                An essential part of my ministry as a port chaplain is being there for seafarers when they are lonely, far from home and want to talk about their families. I may not be able to physically reconnect seafarers with their families but I can offer a prayer or a word of comfort and encouragement, assuring them that the wider family of the Church, through AoS, is praying for them.
               The Feast of the Holy Family reminds us of the importance of families. As we give thanks to God for our families, let us pray for those seafarers who are separated from their families, that God will comfort them during their separation and unite them again soon.