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Holy Family Appeal 

Living out the Pope's Year of Mercy

When Pope Francis announced the jubilee Year of Mercy, which began on December 8th, he spoke of reaching out “to those living on the outermost fringes of society” and supporting them “so they can feel the warmth of our presence, our friendship, and our fraternity.” 
            These words perfectly capture the role AoS port chaplains and ship visitors have with seafarers. 
            Out in the middle of the sea for weeks or months, when seafarers arrive in a port, what they often want is a hand of friendship and to feel that someone cares about them. 
            This is what AoS port chaplains and ship visitors offer. 
            When Doug Duncan, port chaplain to north-east Scotland, was visiting a ship he received a phone call from a worried Filipino seafarer who had been rushed to hospital in the middle of the night. 
            Doug immediately drove to the hospital. “The doctors were attending to him explaining that he would be in for a few days which caused him concern. He was also worried about how his condition would affect his employment contract,” he said. 
            “I was able to settle his anxieties regarding his job and his family and gave him phone top-up cards and various other essentials. One of our AoS local Filipino representatives, Roda Bird, spoke with him in Tagalog and we were able to provide internet connection to enable him to contact his family.” 
Pope Francis among the crowds
© Mazur/

            This kind of corporal act of mercy is at the heart of Pope Francis’ message to launch the jubilee year of mercy. 
            As Sister Marian Davey, AoS port chaplain to East Anglia, says, it’s all about being present for people and being at their service. 
            “It may sound a bit corny but chaplaincy for me has to be person centred. At port level a chaplain is perhaps the only person in the chain of moving goods around who is person centred as opposed to cargo centred. 
            “As a chaplain, I try to flag up to the seafarer that their value and worth cannot be estimated by the price of the cargo they carry but rather they are precious in their own uniqueness as someone who is loved by God.”

Thanks to the generous gifts of parishes and individuals across the country AoS is able to bring the ‘year of mercy’ to countless seafarers through practical and spiritual support.