Cardinal Keith O’Brien of St Andrews and Edinburgh travelled to the port of Grangemouth on Monday, June 13 to visit a ship with the seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS).
The cardinal, together with AoS port chaplain Richard Haggarty, visited three container ships. Together they met the mainly Filipino crews who shared stories of their lives at sea. The cardinal was struck that, even though the seafarers’ centre and supermarket are near the docks, the turnaround times of the ships in port are so short that crew members are often unable to reach them for some respite.
The crew were delighted to welcome the cardinal onboard. He shared out pictures of himself with the Holy Father. The cardinal also spent an hour with some of the AoS volunteer ship visitors who visit ships not only in Grangemouth but also in Leith and on the Clyde, where AoS began nearly 100 years ago.
Volunteer ship visitor Anne Marie Stephen shared her experience of ship visiting as a woman with the cardinal. She said that in the predominantly male world of shipping seafarers open up to her, sharing problems and concerns.
Port chaplain Richard Haggarty also described how the limited time in port for seafarers, particularly on container ships, meant that there was little contact time, but that this made the work of AoS all the more valuable for seafarers.