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Cruise Chaplaincy News

Here are some examples of how our cruise chaplaincy is proving to be a vital ministry in assisting crew members  

Over the Christmas just passed, one of our chaplains Fr.John Doran who was on board the Aurora cruise ship held Mass each morning for passengers and each evening for the crew. Francis, a Stella Maris supporter and his wife was on this cruise and the couple were invited by the crew to attend a special Mass they had arranged ashore in Lisbon. 

Francis says members of the crew had arranged to have a Mass in the church of St Anthony of Padua in Lisbon on Christmas Eve afternoon at 2 pm. Fr John Doran celebrated the Mass. It was a beautiful service and the crew choir were very impressive. One of the crew then gave a very moving thank you to everybody attending and to the Parish for allowing Mass to take place, saying it’s very rare for crew members to attend a Mass in a church together.

Afterwards about 30 members of the crew and a few passengers plus some local parishioners went to see the crypt where St Anthony was born.
Fr John with some of the crew from Aurora attending Mass in Lisbon

Our Easter Cruise Chaplain Fr Peter Geldard was on board the cruise ship Britannia and at the end of his time on board disembark at the Port of Southampton. But before leaving the vessel, Fr Peter had one more opportunity to gather with members of the crew who were very sad to see him go after his time with them. Stella Maris AoS Southampton Senior port chaplain Fr John Lavers also went on board to meet the crew and welcome Fr Peter back on land. The crew members received AoS Easter chocolates as well as the May Edition of the Stella Maris Magazine. More photos on Facebook here including a very beautiful shrine they had on board.
Fr Peter Geldard with some of the Britannia crew and their AoS chocolates

Our cruise chaplain Fr Giorgio Miles who was on board the Azura this Easter celebrated the Vigil Mass which was packed. During Mass, one of the crew, Elvis Anthony Vanhaltren, a butler for the suites on board, received the sacrament of Confirmation. A practicing Catholic all of his life for an unknown reason he was not confirmed as a child. However he was not missed this year and his Confirmation was celebrated by over 200 crew and guests. (How wonderful!). His sponsors are both officers among the hotel staff on board and work as head waiters. Huge thanks to Fr Giorgio for being there for Elvis and for all the ship's crew and passengers this Easter.
From left Rafael Dias, Elvis, Fr Giorgio and Joseph Noronha

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Fr Angelo Philips, a former cruise chaplain with Stella Maris Apostleship of the Sea who passed away on March 12th just two weeks short of his 72nd birthday. You can read the full tribute to him on our Facebook Page here.  
Fr Angelo Philips

One of our cruise chaplains Fr Thomas Grufferty gives a splendid insight into his experience on board the Britannia during Christmas 2018. It is a truly riveting article called Parish of the High Seas. It was first published in The Pastoral Review March-April 2019. Click here to read.
Fr Tom Grufferty

Crew members from two cruise ships - P&O Ventura and Cunard Queen Victoria - had the unique opportunity to celebrate Mass in the Vatican on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 8th.  Both ships were docked in Civitavecchia at the time, so Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) in the Vatican and AoS in Great Britain arranged for the 200-strong crew to celebrate Mass and to visit St Peter's Basilica. Story here. 
Cruise ship crew members visit St Peter's Basilica in Rome

Our cruise chaplain Fr Giorgio Miles was on board the Arcadia over Christmas 2017 to minister to the crew. Here's a picture of him with the ship's choir after midnight Mass on the night of the 31 December for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God celebrating the new year. About 200 passengers and crew came together to celebrate the Mass. One of three midnight Masses for the crew and passengers together. Fr Giorgio was also featured in the Christmas edition of The Catholic Times. You can see a picture of the article here. Thanks Fr Giorgio for supporting the crew who spent the Christmas period away from their families and loved ones.
AoS cruise chaplain Fr Giorgio Miles celebrating Mass on board the Arcadia
AoS cruise chaplain Fr Giorgio Miles is featured in The Catholic Times

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation in the Vatican, made a pastoral visit to the ship’s company on board P&O ship Ventura when it docked at Civitavecchia, Rome on Friday, September 8th. The captain and senior officers welcomed the Archbishop to the ship, who then went on a tour of the ship including crew areas, and met a large number of the 1,200 crew on board. He also joined the crew for lunch in the crew mess and drew the tickets for the crew raffle. Later Archbishop Fisichella celebrated Mass for the crew in the ship’s theatre. Go here for the full story. 
Archbishop Rino celebrates Mass for the crew of P&O Ventura

AoS organised for the head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson, to visit the crew of the P&O Cruises ship MV Oriana and celebrate Mass for them. Cardinal Turkson, whose department covers the care of seafarers, went on board when the ship docked in Civitavecchia, near Rome, on Sunday April 30th. It was a poignant event for the crew. The Cardinal blessed them ndividually and presented everyone with a rosary. He also presented Peter Pereira, a cabin steward, with a special rosary in recognition of the hard work he undertook preparing for the Mass on board. Read the story here.

Fr Hugh Allan, who is the Apostolic Administrator of the Prefecture of the Falkland Islands and Ecclesiastical Superior of the Mission sui iuris of the islands of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, was on board the Queen Mary 2 last year as AoS cruise chaplain. He spoke to journalist Greg Watts about what it's like being a cruise chaplain. The article can be read here.

Fr Hugh Allan was AoS cruise chaplain on Queen Mary 2 

They that go down to the sea in ships

Fr Alan Griffin has written an engaging and profound piece about what it means to be a AoS cruise chaplain. His sharing was published in the November 2016 issue of the Portal. Fr Alan describes how AoS' ministry to the crew on cruise ships is so vital. He writes, "The need is great. The work is important and sometimes a matter of life and death." You can read the full article by going here.   

Fr Alan Griffin AoS cruise chaplain

MS Queen Victoria

Here are some photos from a Mass held on board the cruise ship MS Queen Victoria in Civitavecchia, Rome. Mass was celebrated by Fr Bruno Ciceri from AoS Rome and Rev. Roger Stone, our South Coast of England port chaplain. Being able to celebrate Mass for the ship's crew and officers in their place of work was truly amazing and uplifting. Thanks to Carnival Cruise Line UK and Cunard for making it possible. See more photos on Flickr.

Crew of Queen Victoria posing for a photo after Mass was celebrated on board

MV Oceana

Our cruise chaplain Fr Peter Wilson on board the MV Oriana in August 2016, where he celebrated Mass with its crew. He was able to celebrate Mass twice with them There had been a priest on board the week before and the crew had asked him to celebrate Mass for them for the Feast of the Assumption. The crew also started their Novena to our Lady of Vailankanni.

AoS cruise chaplain Fr Peter Wilson on board MV Oriana with crew

Mass on board MV Azura

The Vatican Bishop for seafarers Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, from Catholic charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) celebrated Mass for and visited crew of the P&O Cruises ship MV Azura on Thursday 28th July, when it docked in Civitavecchia, near Rome. In a deeply personal homily urged seafarers to live their lives in a Christ-like way. He reminded the crew they should live their lives according to the example of Jesus, who never condemns but always offers the opportunity to change and to be saved. Read what the Bishop said.
Bishop Joseph celebrates Mass on boar MV Azura

Mass on board MV Oceana

Vatican Bishop Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil celebrated Mass for bilcharged with the pastoral care of seafarers visited the crew of the P&O Cruises ship MV Oceana Tuesday 17th May, when it docked in Civitavecchia, near Rome. Bishop Joseph is from AoS in Rome, and is Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. The full story can be read here. 

A photo with the crew

Easter 2016 cruise chaplaincy

Fr James Cadman with some of the crew on board MS Prinsendam after Mass.
Fr James Cadman with crew of the MS Prinsendam

Fr Fergus Tuohy was on board the Ventura to support crew and pasengers at Easter.
Fr Fergus Tuohy celebrated Mass for the crew on board the Ventura during Easter 2016

Fr Fergus Tuohy celebrated Mass for the crew on board the Ventura during Easter 2016

Fr Fergus Tuohy celebrated Mass for the crew on board the Ventura during Easter 2016

Fr Simon shares

Here's an excellent article in March 2016 edition of the Portal Magazine, written by Fr Simon Ellis, one of our cruise chaplains. Fr Simon shares about his experience on board the Oriana during Holy Week 2016. Click here to read it.

Fr Simon Ellis shares his experience as an AoS cruise chaplain on board Oriana

Christmas chaplaincy

Our cruise chaplains were deployed on ships during Christmas to minister to crew members and passengers, celebrating Mass and ensuring they are able to receive the Sacraments. The crew particulary are very appreciative as they spend this time far away from home and their families and miss out on the festivities. Still, they always find means and ways of making Christmas special on board as these photos show. More photos can be seen on our Facebook Page here.

Crew celebrate Christmas on the Arcadia cruise ship

Crew choir at Christmas Mass on the Ventura

AoS cruise chaplain Fr Fergus Tuohy with passengers of the Ventura at the Christmas Mass

Fr Aidan Cannon with the crew of Queen Mary 2 during Mass on board.

Mass on board MV Britannia

The Vatican Bishop charged with the pastoral care of seafarers visited the crew of the recently launched cruise ship MV Britannia on Friday 16th October, when it docked in Civitavecchia, near Rome. The Britannia was named by HM The Queen on 10 March, 2015, in a ceremony in Southampton. Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil then celebrated Mass on board with some of the ship's 1,350 crew, many of who are from the Philippines and India. He was assisted by Fr Bruno Ciceri, from AoS Rome and Reverend Roger Stone AoS Southampton port chaplain.  More details including some really lovely photos can be accessed via our News Page. 

Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, Fr Bruno Ciceri and Reverend Roger Stone celebrate Mass on board MV Britannia

Chaplaincy on a Floating City

Here is an interview with one of our cruise chaplains Fr Peter Wilson, which appeared in the August 2015 edition of Westminster Record. He gives a candid insight into what being a chaplain on a cruise ship is like. "It is a special experience," says Fr Peter. You can read the story on Page 16 by following this link.

Apostleship of the Sea has 40 cruise chaplains

Keeping the faith at sea: The life of a cruise ship chaplain

Here's an excellent article about the work of AoS cruise chaplains and why their presence on boards matters so much to the crew, and often passengers, on the ship. This article was written by Greg Watts and appeared in Cruise118.com. Read the story.
AoS cruise chaplain Fr Angelo Phillips celebrates Mass on a cruise ship

Sea Sunday: cruise chaplains

Being a chaplain on a cruise ship might sound a cushy number. You can spend your days sitting in the sunshine by the swimming pool on deck, eating in restaurants, and going to a show in the evening. But the reality is very different, as Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) cruise chaplains will tell you. And this month [July], the Church celebrates Sea Sunday, when we are asked to pray for seafarers and support the work of AoS.

* This is a short extract from an article written by Greg Watts which appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Faith Today, published by Alive Publishing. You can read the full story on their website.

Apostleship of the Sea deploys cruise chaplains to support cruise ship crew

Fr David Gamble joins Cunard celebrations

Our cruise chaplain Fr David Gamble was thrilled to be part of Cunard’s 175th anniversary celebrations. 

He sailed on board the Queen Mary 2 on its recent British Isle voyage where the ship met the other two Queens in Liverpool on May 25 to provide pastoral support for its 1,000 crew.

The opportunity to be able to this was truly special for Fr David, who was himself born and raised in Liverpool.

Read more of the story.

Apostleship of the Sea cruise chaplain Fr David Gamble celebrates Mass on the Queen Mary 2

Fr Alan Griffin, shares his experience as an AoS cruise chaplain
Fr Alan’s first cruise as an AoS chaplain was on board the Queen Mary 2. He said he had a real sense of being the ship’s chaplain, with a ministry to the whole community on board.

The patterned nature of life on board a ship makes it seem much more like a ‘religious community’ than a parish at home.

“All aspects of parish life can be found at sea – the regular round of Masses and other sacraments: marriages performed by the captain, occasional deaths, sickness, pastoral emergencies and opportunities, anniversaries and celebrations.” 

For the crew it is also a demanding job involving long periods of separation from home and family with inevitable tensions and worries, he added.

“As most of the crew are Catholic, it is great to be able to offer them friendship, pastoral support and the sacraments.”

He usually celebrated Mass in the crew mess late at night, after their evening shift ended. “Crew members can attend the passenger Masses which are usually about 8.30 am (5.30 pm when the ship is in port), and a few do so.

“But shift work can make this time difficult for them. This makes it all the more important to spend time in the crew mess when they are eating and socialising. The crew members are more relaxed and open in their own space.”

Father Alan said it’s the friendships he makes that are the most rewarding aspect of being a cruise chaplain. 

"The captains and officers are often very impressive and encouraging to chaplains. Returning to the same ship after an interval sometimes allows the resumption of friendships already made, particularly with crew members.

“I have always enjoyed travel and felt drawn a ministry among fellow travellers and the crew who serve them so well.”

(Words by Greg Watts)

Fr Alan Griffin Apostleship of the Sea cruise chaplain

A Mass was celebrated on Saturday, March 21, in Marseille on board the cruise ship Costa Fascinosa after five passengers from the vessel were killed in the Tunis terrorist attack. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, from Apostleship of the Sea (AoS), and who is Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants at the Vatican.

Mass was held at the request of Costa Cruises, owners of Costa Fascinosa, to offer spiritual and pastoral support for surviving passengers and crew who have been affected by the tragic killings. 

In his homily, Bishop Kalathiparambil said, “When the Costa Fascinosa set sail, both passengers and crew could not have imagined that a seemingly relaxing cruise holiday would turn out to be a week of terror. It is difficult for us to understand the logic behind these terrorist attacks...We feel frightened, insecure. Faced with so much violence, we have many questions, but what is certain is that we cannot respond with more violence,” he said. 

“That's why we gather to celebrate the Eucharist; the greatest manifestation of the love of Jesus, who gave his life for our salvation and conquered evil and falsehood,” added Bishop Kalathiparambil.

In addition to the five passengers from Costa Fascinosa, 12 passengers from another cruise ship, MSC Splendida, also died in the attack. During Mass, Bishop Kalathiparambil entrusted to God the souls of those who died and remembered the injured and wished them a speedy recovery. “We pray that God gives those affected courage and strength to face what must be a difficult time. And through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we invoke the Lord for the gift of peace and tolerance among nations,” he said. 

Costa Fascinosa captain Ignazio Giardina thanked Bishop Kalathiparambil and AoS for going on board to celebrate Mass. “Your presence was much appreciated by our guests and our crew as it brought hope on this ship during what is a difficult time.”  
Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil celebrates Mass on board the Costa Fascinosa following the terror attack in Tunis
Bishop Kalathiparambil celebrating Mass on board.

* For more photos please see our Facebook Page.

AoS port chaplain and cruise chaplain Reverend Roger Stone blessed the rail on the new P&O ship Britannia in Southampton before its maiden voyage in March 2015. The relationship between AoS and Carnival UK grows stronger every day, all for the benefit of seafarers on board. The value of having cruise chaplains on board to support and be there for crew cannot be overstated. 

Apostleship of the Sea port chaplain and cruise chaplain Reverend Roger Stone blessed the rail of the Britannia

* More photos can be seen on our Facebook Page.

Fr John Seddon, AoS former cruise chaplain, RIP. 

It is with great sadness that the Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) has heard of the death on 27th February of Fr John Seddon, a cruise chaplain with the AoS for more than two decades. 
Before being ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Liverpool, Father John worked for the Inland Revenue and was in the Royal Navy Reserve. He became AoS port chaplain to Liverpool in 1989 and undertook his first cruise the following year.

Since then he served on more than 25 cruises, his last was on the Aurora during Easter 2014. In a 2012 article in the Daily Telegraph highlighting his cruise chaplaincy Fr John recounted "For some of the crew, the presence of a priest brings great comfort”. “We held Mass to celebrate the birth of one crew member’s baby. On the other side of the coin, there might be bereavement, so I make arrangements to offer prayers. A crew member lost several members of his family back home in a bad road accident. The deputy captain asked me to celebrate Mass for them, which all the officers attended.”

After many years of being a great friend, confidante and advocate for those who work on cruise ships he has gone to his heavenly reward. We offer our sympathy and prayers to his family. Fr John will be greatly missed by countless cruise ship crew and the Apostleship of the Sea. 

* Do visit our Facebook Page for further tributes to Fr John.

Fr John Seddon, a former cruise chaplain with Apostleship of the Sea, was a great friend to seafarers.

A lovely thank you gift from a grateful ship's company  to Fr Aidan Cannon, one of our cruise chaplains, who spent time on board the Oriana ministering to the crew before and during Christmas. On the day before he left the ship, Fr Aidan was asked to join in the Crew Presentation Ceremony, when the captain presents certificates to crew for their exceptional work.

Imagine his surprise when at the end of the ceremony, the captain called Fr Aidan and presented him with a plaque from the entire ship's company with the inscription "Presented by a very grateful Ship's Company to Father Aidan Cannon.  MV ORIANA January 6th 2014."  Fr Aidan says, "I was overwhelmed by this presentation and found it very difficult to hold back my tears as I thanked the captain and the ship's company for honouring me in this way."

Fr Aidan Cannon gets an award from the Oriana's master Captain David Pembridge

Fr Aidan receives his plaque. With him is the Oriana's master Captain David Pembridge.

Our cruise chaplains were busy during the Christmas and New Year celebrations providing pastoral and practical support to crewmembers onboard cruiseships. Many crew were grateful for their ministry, especially those who were affected by the Philippines' Typhoon. Below is an excerpt from an email sent by a crewmember to one of our cruise chaplains. It truly highlights the value of the cruise chaplaincy ministry that AoS provides.

"On behalf of the crew on board we would like to thank you all for the support given to us crew on board ships…in times our country of Philippines needed support morally and spiritually.  We seldom have the chance to hear Mass when we are on board. It would be nice to have a priest all the time on board to support our faith requirement and comfort us in times of need as things do happen at home. Crew tend to turn to alcohol and other vices for comfort instead of prayers and proper guidance. It helps better if we could have regular faith support from the company, they hire crew of different religion, I wish they also support each faith requirement. Fr. Peter Geldard supported us during the Christmas cruise in every request for Mass and prayer session required. Fr. Angelo is also very supportive and Fr. Joseph from Spain is very supportive and very pro crew. We thank you all for spending time with us.”

Fr John Seddon celebrated Mass with the crew of the cruise ship Fr Aidan O'Connor with officers and crew of a cruiseship

Our cruise chaplains were deployed across the world to support crew members of cruiseships affected by the recent Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Below, two of our chaplains share their experiences;

At the request of Carnival UK, a major cruise operator, AoS has to date deployed 20 cruise chaplains onboard nine cruise ships worldwide to assist crew members. Its chaplains have been helping crew deal with missing relatives and destroyed homes, as well as providing practical support such as phone cards. 

Southampton chaplain Reverend Roger Stone (in picture below) who sailed on two cruise ships says he spent a lot of time listening and comforting crew. “One man lost many members of his family. Several were anxiously waiting to learn whether their parents, siblings and children were alive. One female seafarer is still waiting to speak to her mother and daughter although she now knows they are alive. Crew are staying on board to earn money to pay for food and repair their homes. The cost of everything has gone up so they need to do this more than ever,” he said, adding he had provided many with free phone cards, internet access and money to send to their families. 

Another cruise chaplain, Father Paul Fitzpatrick, was on board a vessel with around 200 Filipino crew. “The crew are like family and have a close bond between them. All of them have to a greater or lesser degree been affected by the typhoon and Filipino crew.” 

Reverend Roger Stone provides support to Filipino cruiseship crew

At the cruise chaplaincy briefing in September 2013, former Costa cruise ship crew member Jo Utteridge (below) shared her experience of working on board. She stressed how chaplains played an important role in the lives of crew. You can download her sharing here.

Jo Utteridge

On a Wave and a Prayer. One of our cruise chaplains, Fr John Seddon, was interviewed by the Telegraph about his experiences as a cruise chaplain. You can read the full article in the Telegraph. 

Fr John Seddon, courtesy of Lee Garland

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