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The changing face of Catholic outreach to Seafarers

Catholic News
Catholic News
The changing face of Catholic outreach to Seafarers
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Stella Maris, the Catholic charity that supports seafarers, fishers, and their families, has just completed a year-long celebration of its 100 years of service.

To mark the end of the centenary year, a special Mass was celebrated in St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, on Tuesday, 5 October.

For this podcast, we caught up with Martin Foley, Chief Executive Officer of Stella Maris, and Anne McLaren, Regional Port Chaplain for Hull and Goole.

We’ve all experienced a degree of separation and isolation over the past 18-months as we face the on-going Covid19 pandemic, but, as Anne McLaren points out, this is simply a way of life for seafarers:

“Many seafarers spend up to six to nine months away from home, so they don’t see their families. They don’t have the connection that most of us have with our families every day. So they need a lot of spiritual support.

“We need to remember that in the UK, because we are an island, if seafarers stopped supporting the economy by bringing in all the goods we need – petrol, fuel, grain and the things that are going to be required for Christmas – then we’d soon recognise the vital role of seafarers. But sometimes it’s ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and what we need to do is to support the ministry of seafarers and bring them into the sight of the population.”

Chief Executive, Martin Foley, says that seafarers need our support now more than ever:

“During the pandemic, seafarers have had to put up with a lot of disruption so it’s not a recent phenomenon. At the height of the pandemic, there were 400,000 seafarers stranded at sea, unable to get home. That number has now reduced by approximately 50%, but they’re still experiencing disruption to their lives.

“Some of the disruption that we’re currently experiencing in our supply chains in terms of provision of fuel and food – it’s something that seafarers have had to put up with for 18 months.”