LONDON, JUNE 30, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The maritime industry celebrated the relaunch of the 81-year-old Catholic seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: “This mission is extraordinarily important but often forgotten. I am very conscious that those who work on our ships are among the poorest people and are separated from their families. They deserve all the support, hospitality and care we can give them. So I rejoice at this initiative and its ecumenical nature.”
Bishop Tom Burns, bishop of the armed forces and promoter of AOS, said: “The spiritual depth of seafarers is inseparable from their effectiveness in the workplace. Today marks a significant event in the life of seafarers throughout the world. AOS has been off the radar for a while but — like a ship that has come out of a refit — it is ready to be relaunched.”
Commodore Chris York, national director of AOS, unveiled a new model of ministry to seafarers. “AOS now has a three-stranded model of ministry which takes account of the needs of seafarers both at sea and in port,” he said. “Our main aim is to bring the Church alongside those who work in such isolated conditions.
“We have ship visiting to make contact with crews when they come into the ports. We are running ecumenical drop-in centers for seafarers inside the ports, with facilities such as telephones and e-mail terminals, and we have seagoing chaplaincy — placing trained chaplains with crews for two to three weeks at a time, working alongside them with a ministry of presence. They will be the life and light of Christ on board the ship.”
The relaunch took place last Wednesday at the Lloyds building in London.
Apostleship of the Sea is an agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. AOS was founded in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1922 and has since spread to 89 countries. It is both a mission and welfare outreach of the Church, providing help to all seafarers regardless of race, creed or nationality.