A Catholic port chaplain in Portsmouth, South England, stepped in to provide pastoral care for a refrigerated cargo ship’s crew upon the request of its manager, Seatrade Groningen BV, after a seafarer died on board.
The 19 crew members on the Comoros Stream were distraught following their colleague’s death while they were at sea in the Atlantic en-route to Portsmouth.
Feeling uncomfortable and seeking reassurance, they requested that the ship be blessed when they arrived in port.
Peter Morgan, Portsmouth port chaplain from Catholic charity Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) arranged for a local priest, Fr Peter Hart, from St Margaret Mary Church, to celebrate Mass on board and bless the ship.
On June 4, Peter, AoS ship visitors Geoff Breeze and Elfi Ip, and Fr Peter boarded the vessel to meet the crew.
“The mood on board was quite low and the seafarers did not speak much of the deceased, perhaps because the tragic incident was still very fresh in their minds,” said Peter.
“Mass was celebrated in memory of the deceased crew member. After that some of crew spoke with Fr Peter. This was very much appreciated by the crew. There was a change of atmosphere on board after this, it was more positive.
“The ship and the cabin of the deceased were blessed on request of the captain and chief engineer. The crew felt more comfortable after this,” Peter added.
The ship has since left Portsmouth, but Peter and AoS local ship visitors will continue to support the crew when they return to Portsmouth in just over a month’s time from their South America run.
The tragic incident is a powerful example of AoS’ ministry of “going to where the hurt is… the Church in outreach to those on the margins”, where Pope Francis encourages us to go.
Further information for Editors
Stella Maris, (Apostleship of the Sea), AoS, is a registered charity and agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of England & Wales and Scotland. It is wholly reliant on voluntary donations and legacies to continue its work.
90% of world trade is transported by ship, and more than 100,000 shipsvisit British ports each year. However the life of a modern seafarer can be dangerous and lonely. They may spend up to a year at a time away from home, separated from their family and loved ones, often working in harsh conditions.
AoS chaplains and ship visitors welcome seafarers to our shores - regardless of their colour, race or creed and provide them with pastoral and practical assistance.
For more information contact John Green, Director of Development on 020 7901 1931 or 07505653801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org