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ICMA Western Europe Conference – May 10-12, 2017, Bremerhaven

ICMA Western Europe Conference 10th – 12th May 2017 Bremerhaven / Germany

Dear colleagues and friends!

Seamen’s missionary work lives and succeeds through networking cooperation of individual stations in different ports. Since 2008 we have not met in our region as the last coordinator gave up the post shortly after his election. The coordinator is normally elected only at the regional conference and because nobody could be found to organize the next conference, it has not been possible to elect a successor.

So now we have a Catch 22 situation: no coordinator, no conference – no conference, no coordinator.

In order to make a new start as ICMA partners in our region, we would like to invite you to Bremerhaven/ Germany from May 10th – 12th2017.

The main theme will be how we can make sure we can continue to hold our regional conferences and also stay in contact with each other.

In addition to this structural thinking and planning, we aim to encourage our partnership in ICMA, get to know each other again and share our experiences. After more than 8 long years, it really is time to meet again and we hope that you are all able to come to Bremerhaven to help reactivate the Western Europe Region of ICMA.

We will try to keep the costs of our meeting as low as possible. Nevertheless we have to ask for a participant contribution of 100 Euro per person. Accommodation and meals are included. The participating stations will be responsible for their own travelling expenses.

If anybody needs financial help please contact us beforehand.

To register please send an email to: christine.freytag@seemannsmission.org

Registrations must be received by March 3rd 2017. We look forward to seeing you in Bremerhaven! Your Organizing Team from the DSM

Antje Zeller Werner Gerke Matthias Ristau Christine Freytag

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ICMA Ship Visitor App

How to get access to the ICMA Ship Visitor App

Introduction

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-10-35-59-am-2All ICMA members are able to use the Ship Visitor App and admin system provided to ICMA members by Sailors’ Society.

The Ship Visitor App and System have 2 levels of service as follows:

  • Ship Visitor V1.0 – Comprising the system as launched in January 2016
  • Ship Visitor V2.0 – The enhanced system

Access

ICMA member organisations must now sign a software license agreement with Sailors’ Society regarding use of the system. This agreement replaces the one that ICMA signed on behalf of all of its members.

Please contact Paul Langham at Sailors’ Society plangham@sailors-society.org to arrange the signing of the agreement. He will need the correct legal name of your organisation and the version of the system you wish to use.

Charges

V1.0 of the system will cost $5 dollars per user per annum

V2.0 of the system will cost $2,000 per organisation and $50 per user per annum

You will be invoiced by Sailors’ Society once the agreement is signed, the invoice is for immediate payment.

Support

Paul Langham acts as system super user and is contactable for help on using the system. Paul can also provide training. Sailors’ Society provide for Paul’s time but if you require him to visit your operation and deliver training travel expenses would be requested.

Enhancements and Updates

The V2.0 system will continue to be developed in conjunction with the user organisations, please contact Paul for more details.

Paul Langham
Ship Visitor App Administrator
Plangham@sailors-society.org
+44 7971608446
Skype: abecketts

 

A Letter to St. Francis

A Letter to St. Francis

by  Fr. Arnaud de Boisseau, Chaplain, Port of Casablanca, Morocco,  May 2016.

screen-shot-2017-01-13-at-10-54-04-am(Translated by Jason Zuidema. Original French text in: François d’Assise et Marseille, ed. Mgr Jean-Marc Aveline, Auxiliary bishop of Marseille, Institut Catholique de la Mediteranée, 2016. Used with permission.)

 

St. Francis,

I do not dare. I dare not write to you. I don’t know how to do it. I do not even know what to call you, what title I should use. I don’t have to write much in my job. And more, I am too accustomed to respecting hierarchy, authority, the higher ups, those who are important, those who are in command…Yet, it seemed to me possible…even if we have talked about you for centuries, even if we honor you (I would write that we offer incense for you even, but I do not write it). It seemed to me that you are a Great one, but an accessible Great one. This is the first time that I write to a Saint, so you can understand my hesitation, my reluctance. Maybe you want to stay available, accessible, remain the same; accessible to everyone. Yet, this is what I think I understand, this is what I thought I presumed in studying your life when I was in Sunday school: you remained a Saint at our level. A Saint at the same height as other humans. At my height, on the same level as me. At my very low level. This is what gives me courage to write to you.

I try to do my job well. Being a seafarer is not an easy job. We are far from everything. You can probably judge this, see it easily from where you are today. Take a look: we’re at 3.78 latitude and -151.69 longitude—that is, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This morning it is Pacific like its name; a calm, beautiful sea. A little swell, nothing alarming. But the weather predictions give us nothing to rejoice about. This calm will not last. A storm is coming. The Pacific will become enraged. Hearing two officers discuss it together, I understand that the company did not want the captain to change course to avoid the storm. A delay in showing up to the Panama Canal would be very expensive so it seems. So they will stick to the planned route, despite the storm. Won’t be the first time, we have seen lots of storms before. That is why we are paid to be here, no?

If risk writing to you, Francis, it’s actually because of another storm, one that is on land. When I went home after my last contract—I was five months in the Philippines—I got married. I’ve been married a few months now. We were engaged for several years, but you know, I was not earning enough when I was sailing on ferries, at home, and then we said we had to have at least a small house, even though now the project has become even bigger. Oh, I’m not complaining; the good Lord blessed us. My wife is pregnant. When I left Iloilo (It is an island in the central Philippines, but you know that well, right?), she was two months along. Now it’s been six months more. Six months already. It is not easy to live a pregnancy at a far distance from home…it’s not easy at any distance. But it is a sailor’s lot to be gone for long periods of time. We communicate via the Internet, as soon as we are in port and I can find a connection. This is our first task as soon as we arrive in port: how to find an Internet connection? Hearing her voice reassured me; it actually gives me energy in a way that I would never have thought possible. Just the sound of her voice. You can easily imagine what kind of conversation we had. Talking about our baby. It is amazing…I hardly dare tell you, yet it is true; hearing her voice, I might say feeling her voice, for me, it is as powerful as one can imagine. It is music to my ears. What can I say about the tone of the voice of the person you love? It is like being transported to paradise! As strong as our nights of love! I never imagined this could be possible, when we were first engaged or even during the first months of marriage. And yet it’s true, I swear. As strong as our nights of love. Today, love by Internet continues to carry me forward.

And yet… Now we are far from any port. This ocean is too big. We don’t have Internet on board. Only the satellite phone on the ship. And unfortunately you have to pay attention to the cost, despite my desire, despite my love, despite everything that I want. When I use that phone, my money seems to disappear into bottom of the Pacific Ocean. So I need to save my money for a call when the baby has arrived, for building our home. We have already prepared lots of things, but much more needs to be done. So, if we need to use the phone on the ship, we do so sparingly.

And just yesterday, it was Sunday, I allowed myself a little treat, just a few minutes of phone time, I was hoping to get a boost of energy for the week. But, instead, I received a kick in the stomach. It was hard to hear; too hard. My wife told me. She was not feeling well. The doctor advised her to go urgently to the hospital. She asked me what to do. I told her to go, no expense spared. Oh sure, I made sure to sound courageous and generous, I said words to reassure her, but deep down, I collapsed; like falling into a black hole, bottomless. Although my salary is much better than when I was working on ferries in the Philippines, as in the early years, I’m not sure I can meet the expense. You know, going to the hospital is expensive, very expensive, at home. And above all, it is this anxiety that gnaws at me, that torments me, that spins me around. Our child, our first child, is he suffering? How is he doing? Despite the reassuring words to my wife, I can’t help but imagine the disaster it would be if anything happened to her…Slowly, I started thinking about how I would hold our child in my arms two months after his birth (our contracts are for nine months, and I sometimes curse those contracts that last exactly the time of a baby’s growth).

This morning, lost and isolated in the middle of this endless ocean, I don’t feel good. Seasickness is nothing compared to homesickness, the longing for family, longing for my darling wife, thinking of our future child.

Francis, since you are a Saint that is my height, maybe you can hear me? Maybe understand me? Listen to me? Help me?

As soon as he saw me, Joselito, my best friend on board, immediately understood that I wasn’t doing well…I told him. He did all he could to reassure me. He has been at sea for six years, he has experience. He said that all seafarers suffer from homesickness, and loneliness. He repeatedly spoke of the stress on board, when you have too much pressure, too much responsibility, it is always difficult to adjust to the situation of life on board. He even told me that I should not count too much on going ashore. That we are most often too far from everything. Too far out to get off, to relax, to forget the ship for an hour. And if we had the opportunity to get off, we are often too tired to take it. We are the forgotten of the world. Its like we are in prison on the ship. A prison that floats, a prison that moves, a prison that navigates, a prison that never stops, a prison that goes around the world, but a prison nonetheless. That’s our seafarer life: wherever we are in the world, we are always elsewhere; too far from towns; too far from the Internet; too far from our families. We who bring everything people need, we are forgotten ourselves. We are the forgotten on the periphery of the world.

It is Joselito, who recommended that I write. Only to write. Doesn’t matter who I write to, he told me. To destress, to combat anxiety, to put on the unimaginable confidence that we need to wear like some sort of armor, in stressful situations like the one I was in. At first I thought he was laughing, he was making fun of me. But no, he was serious. He gave me experienced advice. So I told him I would try. Without believing in myself. I do not even know to whom I should write! Then I remembered having read the story of your life, when I was in Sunday school. I was struck to find out how you were the friend of little ones; especially the small and poor. And I’m also reminded of our Pope, called Francis (this can’t be a coincidence), who speaks of the peripheries of the world. He has not mentioned us, seafarers. Still, I know it is about me, I feel like I am moving and floating on the edges of the world. That’s why I chose to write to you. So that you could bear all those who are on the edges of the ocean, but also my wife and my unborn child.

I sailed several years on ferries, at home, in the Philippines. There were many of us on board, all Filipinos, of course. Here it’s very different. We are only twenty-one sailors aboard. And above all, we are from six different countries. Six very different countries. That took time to get used to. We first had to understand. You know, the universal language is of sailors is English. But this does not mean we understand the first time someone talks to us! We don’t dare ask some officers to repeat themselves, even when we are not sure we understand. Not everyone has the patience. If we do not obey quickly enough, some yell, and when they yell, it paralyzes me. In our culture, this is not done. I cried at first alone in my cabin. And then I learned. We can hardly do otherwise. We must learn to know, to respect, when you have your own customs or ways to live differently. One is forced to get used to living together: no escape, not even possible to do things differently in this floating prison.

So we have to get to know each other, and even end up enjoying each other! At the beginning I would have thought it was impossible. It is a kind of small monastery, you know, to live on top of each other without a lot of personal space, and all doing the same job: each must do his best so that the ship remains secure, and take us safe into port. This is what it means to be on board the same ship! I remember one time when I went into the country at home, I went to visit a cousin who is a monk. I was very young at the time, and it seemed an impossible life, to live so shut up in a monastery. My cousin told me, smiling broadly that he chose his monastery, that the brothers of the monastery had become his own brothers, that he was leading a balanced and healthy life, close to nature, in the sight of God. I have often thought about his ideas, since I started life at sea. The long nights of watch promote meditation. I have thought that our community on the ship looked like a kind of a special little monastery. Even more special, because none of us chose the others. I had no idea of the nationality of the other crew members when I signed my contract in the offices of the crewing company in Manila; almost all of us are married, but forced to live alone; we all left our families for six- to nine-month contracts. And in case of tension between us, the cloister of the ship is much stricter than the monastery of my cousin. And then, you know, for security reasons, we are on a “dry” boat: no alcohol on board…But a beer would do us good, some nights. So I began to think that in the end, life on the ship was much more severe than that chosen by my cousin the monk…Francis, if you will come to do an inspection of your monasteries, you could visit us too and give us some advice to encourage our life on board. I think our rules on board are much like those that you wrote, that your brothers are still practicing in communities all over the world.

Except for religion. It’s not that we are not believers, no! On the contrary, seafarers, when confronted with the reality of the elements, you know, none pretends to be self-assured. All feel so small as mere toys in the hands of the immense forces of nature and of God. Like everyone else, you might tell me. Except that we feel it stronger than many others, when a ship that looks so imposing and powerful, vibrates and groans under the blows of the waves and the elements. We already suffered a big storm in the Pacific: no need to go clubbing like young people after this—the pounding of the waves was better than the bass of music at a club! But here we also have our rules, which are strong, even if they are not written: everyone keeps to himself on religious or political opinions. This is the price that the crew pays to remain united and so that the ship and all it is carrying, can reach its destination safely.

This is only my second long contract, on two different vessels, for two different companies, yet on each ship where the Community rule is respected (and it still is, that I promise!) there is not a common room (in both the mess and the recreation rooms) where we do not find a religious image: that of Jesus the pilot, which helps mariners navigate (How many times have I asked Jesus in my prayer, that He is the best pilot of my whole life?…), or icons of the Holy Virgin. Even on the bridge just behind the place where we put the maps, in the space where you can make coffee, there is an icon. It comes from the Orthodox tradition. Nobody knows who put it there, but it is certain that no one has wanted to remove it. We do not know who put it there or since when or for what reason, but in its place it seems just as useful as the world maps that are stored in the unit beside.

During my previous contract, we lived the drama on board of one of the officers dying suddenly, of a heart attack. We still had to travel three days to reach a port. Can you imagine, Francis, three days of travel with a dead body? The captain told us to put the body in one of the cold rooms on the ship. And us, we had to continue working to ensure the ship was moving, with our companion, down there… Then someone, I forget who, suggested to mark the occasion, to do something, even if we were not experts in religion. After dinner one night, we ended up in the mess for a time of prayer. I should write prayers, plural. Because we were from different churches. And even different religions. I do not know how good our prayers were, we were not experts. It was quite awkward, I think, but we put our heart into it, that’s for sure. Several sailors were from India. I do not know their religion very well, or rather religions. I only remember that we were together to offer those few minutes to our brother, a Russian officer. In respect for each other. Some did not come. It was well known that some crew members did not have much interest in religion. Was I surprised by their absence? I do not know. I just stuck to the rule of the ship: respect the religious freedom of everyone.

It reminded me that you went to see the Sultan. In Tunis, I think. You know a little about what it is to live with different religions. You see, we live this communion each day in sailing in the difference in each other.

Worry remains inside me, endlessly. It torments me every moment. Not for a second, do I forget my wife, our baby. At work, during meals, when I go on or off shift or when I try to sleep—it’s been hard for me to sleep for the last several days…Tonight I look at my hands. Hands that, hopefully, will soon hold my child. Yesterday we had a big job on the engine. I hardly recognize my hands, as they are still marked by work. Hands dirty from sludge—should be several days more before they return to normal. I seem to remember that your hands were marked by the stigmata, traces of your union with Jesus. I’m here, so far from my family, but it is for my wife and child that I endure this life. Then I look at the scars of sludge on my hands. They are almost an indelible mark of the relationship with my wife, my child, that I carry with me every moment.

I note with surprise how these lines that I pushed myself to write, to write to you, now soothe me. Frankly, I am no longer forcing myself to write now. I enjoy it. Last night I was on the bridge. Fortunately, in the Pacific, marine traffic is not heavy, given the vastness of the ocean. I had to report only one other ship during my shift. We were as alone in the world, as the ocean is wide. So I could open myself to the spectacle of the ocean safely without being as preoccupied about potential dangers for the ship. I could contemplate the colors of sea and sky that met each other. These are colors that carry you off. They carried me far, far away…but not only to the Philippines, home to Iloilo, no. They took me elsewhere. It’s hard to explain, you know. I remembered your song, the one where you sing about creation. I only know bits: “Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day through whom you give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor, Of You Most High, he bears the likeness. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, In the heavens you have made them bright, precious, and fair. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods, by which You cherish all that You have made…Praised be You my Lord through our Sister, Mother Earth…” Well, you said it, you prayed it much better than I could… And then something happened in me. I believe, a kind of peace came over me, despite the storms of the ocean and in the life of my child. Or perhaps beyond the storms. I love the sea, even though I hate the waves and swell. Yes, praised be Lord who never abandons us, when the night is too dark, or when the swell is too strong…

That night, I took the time to write, time to write to you. And suddenly I had an odd thought: perhaps is it you who are telling me what I should write, and these words are more yours than mine. Perhaps they are your answer to my distress, your response at the human level, near to the heart of our isolation…

It seems that we are going to stop in Marseille. I stopped there also during my previous contract. I read Alexandre Dumas long ago. So, I was very excited to see for myself the Chateau d’If. To see it was to unite my imagination and reality. But the reality, when I could saw the silhouette of the castle, has not actually done away with the wonder of it. We couldn’t visit the Chateau d’If, our stop was too short and too busy to allow us a tourist trip.

I could also appreciate another view, that of a church perched on a narrow hill overlooking the city of Marseille, which seems to protect it. Rather it is the view of the Virgin Mary, who is at the top of the church that protects the city. And perhaps we sailors too might get a chance to go to her feet. When we entered the port, it seemed to me—no, it is not a hypothesis but a conviction, a certainty—that many times the pilot who guided us looked up at her as if he went under her protection, as if he was praying, as if it was she who guided our ship. I seem to remember in your biography that you’ve also written some prayers to the Virgin. Perhaps like you, Saint Mary is also a saint at our height. So too, when we go to the port of Marseille, I will entrust to her my child, as I now have done to you. Is it not you, the two of you, Mary and Francis, who can do wonders?

Francis, I realize that I did not introduce myself: my name Jovin Omero. I had an uncle who was also a seafarer. Was it because of his example that I decided to follow this path? I am not sure. You know, at home, maritime schools always advertise to get us to enroll with them. They tell us: “Become sailor to visit the world and earn dollars.” The world and dollars were advertised, but no one spoke of the years of struggling in Manila to get a contract, the short stopovers in ports, the many modern ports far away from cities, the loneliness and homesickness, and a stomach knotted with worry for my future child…But I do not regret the life I’ve ended up choosing, although my dreams always carry me home.

Why did I decide to write to you, Francis? What intuition led me to it? Maybe this one: Brother Francis, could you be the little brother of all seafarers?

by  Arnaud de Boisseau,  May 2016.

screen-shot-2017-01-13-at-10-54-04-am(Translated by Jason Zuidema. Original French text in: François d’Assise et Marseille, ed. Mgr Jean-Marc Aveline, Auxiliary bishop of Marseille, Institut Catholique de la Mediteranée, 2016. Used with permission.)

For other writings by Fr. Arnaud de Boisseau, see Marins: Lettres de la mer et paroles de la terre.  With Fr. Roland Doriol.  Marines éditions, 2014.

 

Celebrating Christmas on the Largest Ship in the World

This past December 26, members of the seafarers’ welfare community in Rotterdam spent a memorable day aboard the largest ship in the world, the Pioneering Spirit.  Owned by the Allseas company, the Pioneering Spirit is designed for the single-lift installation and removal of large oil and gas platforms or installation of record-weight pipelines.

casco-3The idea to board the Pioneering Spirit came from George van Ede, participant in the Rotterdam welfare organization for seafarers C.A.S.C.O.  Before retirement, he had been a nautical advisor in the port, supervising many new infrastructure projects in Europoort and Massvlakte.  Over the years, he had become friends with many of the large shipping companies.   At retirement, he joined the board of C.A.S.C.O. and began to help out with the work of seafarers’ welfare.

Having friends in these companies, van Ede has helped C.A.S.C.O. receive some small electronic gadgets, hats, and the like each of the last several Christmases to give to the visiting seafarers. However, this Christmas was different: besides giving gifts, Pioneering Spirit’s Captain Alfred Regtop contacted him to see if he could organize a very special Christmas celebration aboard the vessel.

dsc03392Van Ede reached out to an Apostleship of the Sea priest of Filipino origin, Father Roy in Leuven, Belgium who organized mass.  They were joined by Nederlandse Zeemanscentrale Chaplain Helene Perfors and also Nico Sannes, a former colleague of van Ede’s.

When they arrived at the ship, a wonderful group had gathered for the celebration.

casco-9The group had a great time, including a meeting with the ship’s current captain, Loek Fernengel, who had command of the ship while Capt. Regtop was home for Christmas with his family in Spain.

Van Ede hopes to visit the Pioneering Spirit at least once more before it leaves on its next trip.

casco-8

 

 

 

 

By Jason Zuidema.  Thanks to George van Ede (C.A.S.C.O.) and Nico Sannes for sharing this story and photos.

Ship Visitor Course Rotterdam – Feb. 7-8, 2017

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-9-27-49-am-2The International Seafarers’ Center The Bridge in Oostvoorne (Rotterdam-Europoort) will host a Ship Visitors Course presented by Port Chaplain Helene Perfors on February 7th & 8th 2017.
This is a certified course of which the Port Authority of Rotterdam has unofficially announced that it will make compulsory in due time for all the ship visitors in the Rotterdam Port area.
A maximum of 12 persons can be accommodated.
The course will be on own account including lodging.
A small fee will be charged for meals etc.
If need be the ISC The Bridge can assist with lodging and travel.
Participants can subscribe at: captain.king65@gmail.com or info@isc-lco.com or phone at +31 6 53239530.

International Seafarers’ Centre The Bridge; location Oostvoorne open!

Friday, October 7th, the International Seafarers’ Centre, location Oostvoorne (ISC-LCO) has been opened with great interest.

(Read full story with photos here.)

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Invitees at reception
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The official opening: Mrs. Gruisen, René de Vries, Bernt de Koning, and Paméla Blok–van Werkhoven.

Numerous invitees gathered at the end of the afternoon at Cultural Centre ‘De Man’ to attend the opening of the brand new seafarers’ centre. In this townhouse the foundation has a foyer and their own room at their disposal. There is also a separate entrance to several rooms that can be rented for receptions and other activities.
Guests can use the non-commercial bar, the kitchenette, Wi-Fi and the parking. The last few weeks we have worked hard to furnish the basement of the building. With the collaboration of amongst others the town of Westvoorne, the contractor, the subcontractors and the suppliers we succeeded to get the centre ready for the official opening. The seafarers centre has their own bus – a donation of the foundation ‘Stichting Welzijn Zeevarenden Rotterdam’ – to transport the seafarers from and to the harbour.
The foundation of The Bridge has been made possible by the initiator Bernt de Koning, who as chairman of the foundation International Seafarers´Centre LCO, has spent the last four years to realize the seafarers’ centre. Thanks to the support during the start up phase of the Rotterdam Port Welfare Committee, port Authority of Rotterdam, town of Westvoorne and a group of different financiers he finally succeeded.
Last year a seafarers’ centre opened in Brielle, under the Danish flag, and together with the Flying Angels Club in Schiedam, we now have three centres to welcome the seafarers in and around the harbour of Rotterdam.
The opening ceremony took place at Cultural Centre De man. Mrs. Annie Gruisen, secretary of ISC-LCO, invited several speakers: Bernt de Koning who shortly told us about the history and foundation of the ISC-LCO; then alderman Mrs. Paméla Blok–van Werkhoven, harbour master of Rotterdam René de Vries, and chairman of the NZC, Mr. Hans Kapteijn.
With the exchange of several gifts and the making of a knot in an old fashioned hemp rope, the opening of the ISC-LCO was formally conducted.
Searching for volunteers. Since three weeks Edwin van Os together with 22 volunteers is managing The Bridge during 3 days a week. In these three weeks we have already welcomed 170 visitors. The target audience are the seafarers of ships that are in the harbour with an average of 55 hours; mainly bulk carriers and tank ships. The last few days people from several countries have visited us, including China, the Philippines, India, Georgia, Russia, Germany and Poland. They are all amazed when they enter our beautiful village Oostvoorne; so quiet and peaceful and all these nice people and houses! ‘Where is the super market and till what time can we go shopping?’ The first remarks and questions of the seafarers who sometimes didn’t see anything else for weeks then the horizon, the waves and a remote loading dock in Brazil.
To have the seafarers’ centre opened 7 days a week, instead of the 3 days now, we need about 40 volunteers, who all help out once a week from 16:00 till 22:00 hours. Volunteers who are interested in accompanying the seafarers are invited to contact the LCO Foundation, phone nr: 06-32274725.

For transport check out the website :
www.isc-thebridge.com or phone 0031-32274725

AHOY Course Manila

Photos of the course are available here.
A full copy of the program is available here.

Monday, 26th
– Philippines Port Authority
AOS Bishop Promoter of the Philippines – H.E. Bishop Narciso Villaver Abellana
Scalabrini International Migration Network – Fr. Mario Zambiasi
– Filipino History – Dr. Ricardo T. Jose
Filipino values and culture – Prof. Stella P. Go
– ICMA in the Filippines – AOS-Philippines, Mission to Seafarers, Sailors’ Society
Young Filipino men securing work and the future through ‘utility manning’ – Dr. Roderick Galam
Health and self-medication practices of Filipino seafarers – Dr. Nelson Turgo

Tuesday, 27th
– Filipino Catholic religiosity and beliefs (part 1 and part 2) – Fr. Mario Dominic C. Sanchez
– Other Filipino Churches / Faith Denominations – Dr. Manuel Victor J. Sapitula
– Overseas Filipino Workers – Romulo V. Salud

Wednesday, 28th
– Philippines: people of the sea – Fr. Graziano Battistella
Ecumenism in the maritime world – H.E. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle
– ICMA Sessions
i. Stuart Rivers (Sailors’ Society) – “Disruptive Technology and A Vision for the Future of Maritime Ministry”
ii. Lance Lukin (MTS Regional Director Oceania Region/Wellington Port Chaplain & Seafarer Centre Manager) – “Support for Chaplaincy: Learning from other Chaplain Networks”
iii. Jason Zuidema (NAMMA) – “ICMA and Future of Maritime Ministry
iv. Heike Proske (DSM) – Managing and Motivating a Decentralized Team: Lessons from the DSM”

Friday, 30th
– Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers – Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara
– Filipino seafarers, fishers, and their families – Ms. Rebecca J. Calzado
– Filipino seafarers and fishers on international waters – Mr. Hans Leo Cacdac
– Filipino seafarers and fishers in the global maritime industry – C/E Marcial C. Amaro III
– Labor concerns and legislative agenda for Filipino seafarers and fishers – Mr. Silvestre H. Bello, II
– Needs and issues of Filipino crew on board cruise ship

Cardinal Tagle Inspires Seafarers’ Welfare Leaders to Serve the Vulnerable

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It was a great honour for the participants of the ICMA Ahoy course to welcome H.E. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and President of Caritas International, to speak about the importance of ecumenism in the work of seafarers’ welfare. The speech was a high point in a week full of insight about the joys and challenges of Filipino seafarers worldwide. After Pope Francis, Cardinal Tagle might be one of the most recognizable and admired Catholic leaders alive today: no doubt, it is with immense pride that Filipino Catholics claim him as their own. Hence, dressed in a simple barong and wooden cross, speaking as a Filipino, and one with a deep knowledge of the plight migrant and refugees around the world, he was well-placed to encourage work among Filipino seafarers.

From his opening words to the closing, the audience was engrossed and inspired. The opening line lit a fire in our minds and brought home the reason for which we were gathered together: “Jesus prayed for unity. ICMA is already an answer to Jesus’ prayer in the maritime world.”

He situated his remarks by exploring the connection between movement and vulnerability in our world. All of life is on the move, he said, and being on the move creates an occasion for vulnerability. But living in vulnerability is not in itself an evil: God himself chose to become a creature and acts in that space of vulnerability. His mercy, love, and caring are found among the alien, foreigner, widow, and orphan. The Church is called to be in that space of vulnerability as well. The sad reality, however, is that that space should be filled by compassion and mercy, but is all too often one of manipulation and exploitation. The unhappy truth is that those who are most vulnerable in this life on the move, too often invite exploitation, not compassion. The Gospel calls us to fill that space of vulnerability with hospitality, not hostility. This calling is not just for some Christians, but all should be encouraged by a true ecumenical spirit in all Christians to uplift and heal people that are on the move.

Cardinal Tagle remarked that his experience of care for the vulnerable led to four practical suggestions for ecumenical work among seafarers:

First, that we can continually recognize what we have in common: we have a common humanity; we are all created by God. Problems for the vulnerable begin when they become less than human, a commodity to be bought and sold.

Second, we can affirm common Christian treasurers. Guided by the Holy Spirit, these gifts are our common resource for handling our real diversity. Though we continue to have differences of opinion on church and sacraments—and should discuss them!—we can nonetheless share treasurers together.

Third, ecumenism involves a common change of heart: we need to get rid of biases, need to listen to others with humility. Dialogue with others is not just listening to the facts of the other’s beliefs, but trying to learn from them with appreciation. Above all we need to avoid the kind of proselytism that offers aid to the vulnerable on condition that they join our cause.

Finally, Cardinal Tagle noted that we can join together in practical ecumenism: we can work together to restore the dignity of those who have had their humanity stolen from them. In working with Filipinos and all Overseas Foreign Workers, he had one suggestion: encourage forms of recovering lost humanity through joy and music.

The speech by Cardinal Tagle was tied together with stories of joy and humanity: his unmistakable love for migrants, refugees, and all those on the move made his message compelling. He seemed to enjoy genuinely learning about the work of ICMA and also stayed for lots of selfies with the participants!