Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Seafarers Given The Opportunity To Celebrate On Ash Wednesday

The Apostleship of the Sea says:
In his Lenten message this year, Pope Benedict XVI, calls us to reflect on justice, on how each person can be given their ‘rightful due’. The port chaplains of the Apostleship of the Sea including Deacon Roger Stone from Arundel & Brighton Diocese will be taking up this call on Ash Wednesday. Deacon Roger is based in Southampton as full time chaplain but his ministry stretches across to the Sussex coast.

AOS Priest Chaplain distributes ashes aboard ship
The Holy Father says that each person’s due is not only to receive their physical needs; food, water, medicine, but also to receive that which will help them live their life to the full. This Ash Wednesday, AoS port chaplains, as on every other day of the year, will do just this, attend to the physical needs of seafarers; help them communicate with loved ones, lend a listening ear, and also to help them live their life to the full and for those who want to, to celebrate Ash Wednesday, even in the midst of a busy industrialised port environment.

The Catholic Faith as with all other religions has many days within its calendar that are special to its followers; times for them to re-affirm their faith and to celebrate their spirituality. Ash Wednesday is one of these special days. Often these celebrations are taken for granted by those who have easy access to them, however for many individuals these times to celebrate are not always a ‘given’.
Seafarers, whilst working on ships, are often unable to celebrate their faith as they would like. They do not have the opportunity to attend services. They are often at sea on special feast days and miss crucial spiritual events. Research by the International Transport Workers’ Federation Seafarers’ Trust (ITF) already shows that seafarers recognise their spiritual needs are just as important as their physical welfare, and the inability for them to practice their faith often has a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing. (Taken from ITF/SIRC 2007 report Port Based Welfare Services for Seafarers)

Apostleship of the Sea enables seafarers that visit the UK to celebrate their faiths in the ways they so wish. They enable seafarers of any faith to attend faith services and visit places of worship. For Catholic seafarers they arrange Mass onboard or off ship, provide faith resources, help to celebrate important feasts, allow access to the sacraments and help seafarers feel they are fulfilled spiritually.

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