Sea Sunday 2013

I'm delighted that my birthday is on the same day that churches around the world celebrate Sea Sunday. It's a special day to remember and pray for all seafarers and their families and all those who have a special ministry at sea. Living in the far South West of the UK in Cornwall, a county surrounded by sea on three sides, gives me a deep appreciation for the work of seafarers and for the hardships they and their friends, loved ones and families often endure.

Since retirement I have been fortunate in spending more holidays at sea and this too has given me immense respect for the hard work of crews and chaplains on these ships. 

 From Vatican Radio website,The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People has published this message below ahead of the "Sea Sunday", celebrated this year on July 14.

The celebration occurs every year on the second Sunday in July and is a time of remembrance, prayer and also celebration to thank the people of the sea for the service they render to the world community – nearly one and a half million seafarers aboard a globalized world fleet, composed of 100,000 ships that carry approximately 90% of manufactured products.

The annual observance is also intended to raise awareness of the ministry that the chaplains and volunteers of the Apostolate of the Sea, found in many ports throughout the world since 1920.

Below, please find the complete text of the Message of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People for Sea Sunday 2013:

This world of the sea, with the continuous migration of people today, must take into account the complex effects of globalization and, unfortunately, must come to grips with situations of injustice, especially when the freedom of a ship’s crew to go ashore is restricted, when they are abandoned altogether along with the vessels on which they work, when they risk piracy at sea and the damage of illegal fishing. The vulnerability of seafarers, fishermen and sailors calls for an even more attentive solicitude on the Church’s part and should stimulate the motherly care that, through you, she expresses to all those whom you meet in ports and on ships or whom you help on board during those long months at sea. 

These words were addressed by Pope Benedict XVI to the participants of the XXIII AOS Congress held in the Vatican City, November 19-23, 2012. As a matter of fact, for more than 90 years the Catholic Church, through the Work of the Apostleship of the Sea with its network of chaplains and volunteers in more than 260 ports of the world, has shown her motherly care by providing spiritual and material welfare to seafarers, fishers and their families.

Image source

As we celebrate Sea Sunday, we would like to invite every member of our Christian communities to become aware and recognize the work of an estimated 1.2 to 1.5 million seafarers who at anytime are sailing in a globalized worldwide fleet of 100,000 ships carrying 90 per cent of the manufactured goods. Very often, we do not realize that the majority of the objects we use in our daily life are transported by ships crisscrossing the oceans. Multinational crews experience complex living and working conditions on board, months away from their loved ones, abandonment in foreign ports without salaries, criminalization and natural (storms, typhoons, etc.) and human (pirates, shipwreck, etc.) calamities.

Now a beacon of hope is beaming in the dark night of these problems and difficulties encountered by the seafarers.

The ILO Maritime Labor Convention 2006 (MLC 2006), after being ratified by 30 Member countries of the International Labor Office, representing almost 60 per cent of the world’s gross shipping tonnage, is set to enter into force in August 2013. This Convention is the result of several years of relentless tripartite (governments, employers and workers) discussions to consolidate and update a great number of maritime labor Conventions and Recommendations adopted since 1920.

The MLC 2006 establishes the minimum international requirements for almost every aspect of seafarers’ working and living conditions, including fair terms of employment, medical care, social security protection and access to shore-based welfare facilities.

While, as AOS, we are welcoming the entering into force of the Convention and confidently hope to see improvements on the life of the seafarers, we remain vigilant and express our attentive solicitude by focusing our consideration on the Regulation 4.4 of the Convention, the purpose of which is to: ensure that seafarers working on board a ship have access to shore-based facilities and services to secure their health and well-being.

We should cooperate with the proper authorities in our respective ports so that to all seafarers shore leave be granted as soon as possible after a ship’s arrival in port, for the benefit of their health and well-being (cf. B4.4.6§5)

We should remind to port states that they shall promote the development of shore-based welfare facilities easily accessible to seafarers, irrespective of nationality, race, color, sex, religion, political opinion, or social origin and of the flag state on which they are employed (cf. A4.4§1.).

We should assist the proper authorities to establish national and local welfare boards that would serve as a channel for improving seafarer’s welfare at ports, bringing together people from different types of organization under one identity (cf. B4.4.3).

We should also encourage the port authorities to introduce, aside from other forms of financing, a port levy system to provide a reliable mechanism to support sustainable welfare services in the port (cf. B4.4.4 §1(b)).

Our final responsibility is towards the seafarers. We should provide them information and education about theirs rights and the protection offered by this Convention, which is also considered the fourth and final pillar of the international maritime legislation, the other three being the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) 1973, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) 1978. An effective implementation will be possible and real changes will happen only if the people of the sea will know the content of the MLC 2006.

Let ask Mary, the Star of the Sea, to enlighten and accompany our mission to support the work of the faithful who are called to witness to their Christian life in the maritime world (cf. Motu Proprio Stella Maris Sec. 1, Art. I).
Antonio Maria Cardinal Vegliò
President + Joseph Kalathiparambil"

In these three beautiful and moving videos below, Adrian Plass paints a picture of the work of The Sailors Society as it seeks to help the world's seafarers who often face extremely difficult conditions : 

 Recommended !!

The second is the prayer Adrian mentioned in the first video
Blessed Are Those Whose Heads Are Uncovered For They Shall Receive.

 Specially for Sea Sunday Services..
A beautiful poem
"Release The Scent"

 Apostleship of the Sea - London, United Kingdom
Here's a video related to the Plymouth Diocese of which Cornwall is part.

Local Plymouth and Teignmouth film students followed Apostleship of the Sea lay Catholic chaplain Anne Donnelly in 2011 on a normal day in her work, visiting ships and supporting seafarers. This is the film that resulted.

  • Rev. Roger Stone a Catholic port chaplain in Southampton chats about the role of The Apostleship Of The Sea on Radio Solent about Sea Sunday. 

Oops, I almost forgot .... one of my all time favourite hymns !

 Lord You Have Come To The Seashore 
with lyrics

and this is a lovely version of Eternal Father Strong To Save
"for those in peril on the sea.."

The original hymn was written by William Whiting of Winchester, England, in 1860. It was originally intended as a poem for a student of his, who was about to travel to the United States. In 1861, John B. Dykes, an Anglican clergyman, composed the tune "Melita" for this hymn. "Melita" is an archaic term for Malta, an ancient seafaring nation and the site of a shipwreck involving the Apostle Paul mentioned in Acts of the Apostles (chapters 27-28)

The first part of this is instrumental and then the sung part follows on.

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