- What We Do
- News & Media
- Help Us
- Contact Us
The vulnerability of seafarers must never be overlooked
By Euan McArthur, Development Officer, Scotland
Lent is a time when we are traditionally asked to give up something for a relatively short period in preparation for the forthcoming joy of Easter. But this short-lived hardship is nothing compared to the plight of seafarers whose hardships can extend throughout the whole year.
Christmas is just past, but for the crew on board the Italian cargo ship Mariolina de Carlini there was precious little festive cheer – until Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) stepped in. Spending Christmas far from home, the mainly Filipino seafarers were stranded at Inchgreen dry dock on the River Clyde ever since the vessel was impounded by authorities in early August due to outstanding debts. This left the anxious crew enduring a long-running wrangle over wages. One 23-year-old Filipino seafarer admitted being away from home at such an emotional time of the year had been especially hard to cope with, as his wife had recently given birth to a baby son whom he had yet to see in the flesh. He told us: “It’s been the hardest time of my life at sea- without a doubt. When other families were preparing to go home at Christmas, we were just wondering if we were going to have enough money to survive everything that was happening". “AoS were down regularly keeping up crew morale and spirits which is invaluable in such a situation.” Captain Ron Bailey, Harbour Master at Clydeport
“I can’t wait to see my son. I’ve only seen photos of him over the internet and he looks beautiful, but I honestly don’t know when I will see him. It is times like this when you really feel how difficult a life at sea can be. It’s like no other way of life because you get detached and lonely. It’s nice to be able to sometimes speak to your family over the internet, but it’s not the same and there are times when you just wish you could go home; even if it was just for a short while. We just have to get on with it, no matter how tough it can be. We all miss our family terribly. That goes without saying and we are so grateful for the work AoS does, because without them we would be really struggling to keep going.” Fortunately for these seafarers, their spirits received a much-needed boost when AoS port chaplain, deacon Richard Haggarty and volunteer ship visitor Michael O’Connor (pictured above) offered their support in a both a spiritual and practical way. Richard said: “We introduced members of the crew to nearby churches so they could get to Mass, where they were warmly received and supported by parishioners. Freezing conditions were somewhat new to them as they were from a warmer climate so we kitted them out with woolly hats, gloves and jackets, which were essential just to keep them warm. It is so moving to learn of the experiences these young men have to endure while attempting to make an honest living at sea. It must be so hard on them and their loved ones. Anything we can do to help can only be a good thing.” Ship visitor Michael said, “This is when the work of AoS comes into its own. To see the looks on the crew members’ faces when they are brought rosary beads and Catholic prayer books and papers reminds you that you are doing something special. Make no mistake, seeing such an honest group of guys separated from their families and not being able to do the things we take for granted, such as having fun with our families every day, makes the heart bleed!” AoS supports seafarers worldwide. It was founded in Glasgow 93 years ago. Currently we have 14 chaplains across Great Britain, of which two are in Scotland. Along with a growing band of enthusiastic volunteers, they visit ships and aid those seafarers who face an increasingly uncertain life at sea. Pope Benedict XVI recently addressed several hundred AoS chaplains at our World Congress in Rome, in praising their work, he said: “The vulnerability of seafarers, fishermen and sailors must never be overlooked. The Church has an important part in assisting those who are at sea for long periods.” AoS continues to support seafarers in all Britain’s largest ports. We rely on volunteers and generous donations from our supporters to maintain our vital work. We ask you to please give generously this Lent.
“I hope that each of you every day can rediscover the beauty of faith, to bear witness always with consistency of life. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Stella Maris and Star of the Morning, always illuminate your work so that the people of the sea can know the Gospel and meet the Lord Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Apostleship of the Sea audience with Pope Benedict XVI, Rome, November 2012
We need your support for this appeal to ensure our vital work continues.
Thank you for your help.
We rely on voluntary contributions to sustain our work. Please make a donation today and help us continue our work supporting seafarers