Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) is a front-line service for the care of seafarers. This year it celebrates its 90th anniversary. In addition to numerous celebrations throughout the year, on October 19 and 20 members of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerants in Rome and representatives of AoS from 11 European countries and a few from further afield met in the Conforti Institute, Coatbridge, to celebrate the anniversary and to look to what the future will bring for AoS.
AoS Great Britain (GB) reported that the meeting brought an encouraging message, full of practical common-sense about future challenges in seafaring ministry and how AoS worldwide would adapt their ministry to encompass any development in merchant seafaring.
Martin Foley, national director of AoS GB, said: “It was a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the different national AoS organisations and consider how we can co-operate more closely for the benefit of seafarers. We were also given the opportunity to reflect upon and learn from our history in meeting the challenges of today.”
The highlight of the conference was a mass celebrated in St Aloysius church, Glasgow, which saw the original formation of the AoS on October 4 1920. By kind permission of Fr Peter Griffiths, the parish priest, Bishop Peter Moran, Bishop-Promoter (Scotland) of the AoS, presided and preached at the parish evening Mass.
The bishop was assisted by Deacon Brian Kilkerr, AoS chaplain for the North-East of Scotland. Local volunteers and supporters of AoS came along to show their support and all moved to an informal reception after the Mass.
Each year in Scotland seafarers make around one hundred thousand calls at ports large or small, bringing us 95 per cent of the goods in our shops. Their living conditions are often cramped and difficult and they are months away from home. Modern ships have short turn-around times. The crews have little or even no time ashore. Instead, the chaplains and trained volunteer ship-visitors of AoS bring care, support, and the love of God to them where they are and when they need it. AoS will continue to provide practical and pastoral care for seafarers worldwide.
The Apostleship of the Sea, AoS, is a registered charity and an agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of England & Wales and Scotland. It is wholly reliant on voluntary donations to continue its work.
Ninety per cent of world trade is carried by ship, and some 100,000 seafarers visit British ports each year. They are typically away from home for 12 months.