Seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) responded to the spiritual and faith needs of the crew of container ship CMA CGM Africa Four when it called at Tilbury port in late July.
The crew of the 51,634 deadweight-tonne CMA CGM-operated vessel contacted the Tilbury seafarers centre prior to its arrival to request for Mass to be held on board and for the ship to be blessed.
AoS chaplain in Tilbury, Wojciech Holub, visited the ship to meet the seafarers.
He said, “The men, Filipino and Romanian nationals, seemed very anxious and were desperate for a service to be held. I asked them what was troubling them and it turned out that while they were berthing in Dakar, Senegal, a sailor who was lining a small boat had got caught by the propeller and was pulled underwater.”
Wojciech added, “His body was recovered three days later. The crew were left upset and distressed by the incident.”
Wojciech made arrangements for Mass but a last-minute change to the ship’s schedule meant the service could not be held because the ship had to leave earlier than its original time of departure.
Nevertheless, Wojciech contacted Fr Jorgedy Bago, the AoS chaplain in Antwerp, where the ship was headed to, so Mass could be celebrated on board the ship when it arrived at the port.
Fr Jorgedy said, “There was a sense of relief among the crew after Mass was said and the blessing given. They were really comforted to have a chaplain on board. They also spoke about their families back home and life on board the ship.”
AoS development director John Green said, “At the heart of the container industry are the crews on the ships who, day in, day out keep it moving in all sorts of conditions. For nearly 100 years, AoS has provided port chaplains to look after the welfare of these crew.
“Although ships and ports have become more automated and crew are looked after well with access to communication facilities and shore leave, they still need access to welfare and emotional support to nurture friendships and attend to their spiritual needs.
He added, “We’re able to make use of our network of global chaplains to ensure continuous support for seafarers’ who need it no matter which port in the world they find themselves in.”
Apostleship of the Sea is a charity partner of Intermodal Europe to be held in Amsterdam on November 28 – 30, and John will be presenting a session at the conference.