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Harvest Appeal 2014

“As priests, we are trained to work in different areas. I find it very rewarding to be ministering now to the needs of seafarers, says Fr Paul Osunyikanmi, Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) port chaplain to Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.
                   Father Paul left his native Nigeria in 2009 and, after a spell at a parish in south London where he became involved in hospital chaplaincy work, he joined Menevia diocese. 
                   He now works as a part time port chaplain whilst also looking after the parish of St Francis of Assisi. I find that attending to the needs of my parishioners and providing pastoral support to the seafarers helps me to exercise my priestly ministry very effectively. l attend to the parishioners more in the church, especially for Masses and prayers, l meet seafarers on ships. These are their homes, where they pray. 
                   “I see my parishioners regularly and get to know them well. Seafarers, on the other hand, may not always be available when I visit their ships due to their work schedule. l might meet a seafarer today and never see him again. 
                   “Becoming a port chaplain is a challenge that offers me ample opportunities to know more about the life of seafarers and the challenges they face. Life is about learning, and learning continues throughout life. l am learning more and more about the maritime industry, which is a new area for me.”
Fr Paul Osunyikanmi is Apostleship of the Sea port chaplain in Milford Haven

                  Seafarers often have to endure many difficulties on ships, he explains. These can range from being confined to a small space, loneliness, isolation, long hours, and not being able to communicate with their friends and relatives or family for some time, especially when there are no internet facilities on board. 
                  “I have recently celebrated two Masses on board, the first to mark the beginning of the new year, the second following the death of a ship’s officer at sea. 
                  “Between October 2013 and April 2014 the chaplaincy team in Milford Haven assisted 975 crew members to come ashore, to pray or to go shopping. We have supplied many with phone cards and other essential things that have helped to make their life more comfortable on board. We also helped one seafarer buy a laptop computer to be able to reconnect with his family.
                  “Last year, we appealed to parishes to donate gifts for seafarers at Christmas. This will continue every year. We hope that many parishes will help us through prayers and by donating to support the work of AoS.
                  “During winter we need hats and gloves that we can distribute to the seafarers. We also need more volunteers to visit ships or drive the seafarers in and out of the port. Above all we need more funds to be able to sustain our ship visiting ministry.”
                  Father Paul says that after leaving school in Nigeria he originally wanted to be an airline pilot, but that all changed when he was involved in an accident and underwent what he says was a near death experience. “I heard a voice from above that said it was not time for me to die, but to become a priest.”
                  “Working with seafarers has enabled me to appreciate the wonderful contribution they make to the world’s economic growth and the well-being of peoples all around the world.
                  “I appreciate their work better and see the need for them to be supported in different ways, especially by making them feel loved and cared for. The pastoral ministry of AoS chaplains and ship visitors is so valuable.”