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The “Filipino Balita”

A seafarer with his copy of the "Filipino Balita"
A seafarer with his copy of the "Filipino Balita"

The vital publication in the port chaplain’s bag

Port chaplains and their ship visiting teams offer many different items to seafarers when they go onboard. Some bring maps and local information. Some bring prayer books and religious texts. Most offer phonecards.

But there is one publication which can be found in hundreds of chaplains’ bags around the world: the “Filipino Balita”.

This vital publication is compiled by Stella Maris Friends in the port of Venice in Italy. We asked Andrea Pesce, the Director of Stella Maris Friends, to tell us more about it. In this article, he describes how “Balita” began and how it evolved into the service it is today. He also asks for your help.

One way to say ‘welcome’!

Fr Mario Cisotto, former port chaplain in Venice and founder of Stella Maris Friends, says:

“When I first started ship visiting in 1999, seafarers used to ask me what time the Seamen’s Club opened. But we didn’t have a club back then. They asked me to take them to the shopping mall. But we didn’t have a shuttle bus back then either. They asked me for telephone cards. I didn’t even know what “prepaid calling cards” were. I began to wonder what I could do for the seafarers. Continue reading The “Filipino Balita”

Featured ministry: Queen Victoria Seamen's Rest

qvsrICMA member Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest (QVSR) has provided help and hospitality to seafarers in London for over 150 years.

Known locally as the “Queen Vic”, the QVSR was established in 1843 as the Seamen’s Mission of the Methodist Church. Originally it offerred accommodation and Christian care to the transient seafarers whose work brought them to London’s busy docks. The QVSR is still a seafarers’ hostel, the largest of its kind in the United Kingdom. However the changing nature of seafaring, and of the local area, have brought changes to the ministry of the QVSR.

Continue reading Featured ministry: Queen Victoria Seamen's Rest

Featured ministry: Rio de Janeiro

Cristo RedentorIn the famous city on Brazil’s South Atlantic coast, visiting seafarers are welcome in the Stella Maris Centre. The centre is run by port chaplain Fr Cesare Ciceri and his assistants Elsa and Rogeiro of ICMA society Apostleship of the Sea (AOS).

Around 100 seafarers visit the centre every month. Fr Cesare has a good relationship with the port authorities. This enables him to visit general cargo ships in the state-owned port and the ships in the private container port. Port bus drivers give seafarers leaflets about the centre.

Fr Cesare Ciceri
Fr Cesare Ciceri

The AOS team has operated the seafarers’ centre for two years. The location, inside the port, means that seafarers are safe from the drug-traffickers notoriously powerful in parts of Rio. Facilities at the centre include Internet and VOIP telephones. Books, games and a television are available for relaxation.

Time in port is limited. But after weeks at sea, an excursion on land provides a welcome change. Fr Cesare and the team often bring seafarers to visit the famous Cristo Redentor statue that stands high above the city on Corcovada Hill. It is a site particularly loved by Filipino and African seafarers. Continue reading Featured ministry: Rio de Janeiro

ICMA world conference 2011

The ICMA Hamburg World Conference Committee has met for the first time to begin planning our great event in 2011.

Members of the ICMA world conference planning committee
Members of the ICMA world conference planning committee

During the last week of August an enthusiastic group of people, set upon hosting the ICMA World Conference in 2011, met for the first time in Hamburg, Germany. The meeting was convened by Pastorin Heike Speigelberg. Joining the group were, among others, the Reverend Heike Proske, Secretary General of the Deutsche Seemannsmission, the ICMA General Secretary, Hennie la Grange, and his predecessor Dr Juergen Kanz.

Continue reading ICMA world conference 2011

ICMA members responding to piracy

Both the retiring Chairman of ICMA and his successor come from organisations which are working to assist seafarers affected by piracy.

Past and present leaders of the Deutsche Seemannsmission on the retirement of Hero Feenders
Past and present leaders of the Deutsche Seemannsmission on the retirement of Hero Feenders

Shortly before his retirement, in June 2009, Reverend Hero Feenders initiated the response of the Deutsche Seemannsmission to maritime piracy. Launching a programme called Piraten: Bedrohung auf See (Piracy: Threat at Sea), he said

“We cannot but react when we see the lives of seafarers disrupted [by piracy] while little is done to deal with the trauma seafarers suffer as a result”.

Continue reading ICMA members responding to piracy

ICMA ties and scarves

The newly designed ICMA ties and scarves are now available.

ICMA Chairman, Douglas B Stevenson, and the Reverend Heike Proske model the new scarf and tie on the photograph.

The new tie and scarf was developed as a result of the 2008-Consultative Forum’s request that the ICMA brand should be promoted.

Douglas Stevenson took the initiative. A New York based designer, Holly Stevenson, designed the new livery.   Reverend Sakari Lehmuskallio helped to develop the final product, and Reverend Martina Platte assisted in production.

The new tie and scarf will be available at all ICMA events at 10 Euro each.

The ICMA tie and scarf modelled by Mr Doug Stevenson and Rev Heike Proske
The ICMA tie and scarf modelled by Mr Douglas B. Stevenson and Rev Heike Proske

ICMA at IMHA

ICMA General Secretary Rev Hennie La Grange attended the 10th International Symposium on Maritime Health in Goa, India at the end of September. The event was organised by the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA). The theme was “Quality maritime health and seafarers’ welfare”.

From left to right: Ruben Paul, Ranjith Ratikant, Manoj Joy, Hennie La Grange, Simon Dharmaraj, Anthony Baliswamy, Paul Birla in Goa.
From left to right: Ruben Paul, Ranjith Ratikant, Manoj Joy, Hennie La Grange, Simon Dharmaraj, Anthony Baliswamy, and Abraham Vinaylal Bengara in Goa.

The event was attended by delegates from maritime organisations including the ITF, IMO, and ILO and by representatives of ship owners and national maritime authorities. While in Goa, Rev La Grange attended an informal meeting of port chaplains and welfare workers of various ICMA member organisations in India. Together they pledged closer ecumenical co-operation for the benefit of seafarers. Fr Anthony Baliswamy was chosen to organise communications among the group. Continue reading ICMA at IMHA