Recently the ecumenical chaplain group in the Port of Antwerp met with Heike Proske, General Secretary of the Deutsche Seemannsmission. A great time of sharing and encouragement!
From left: Oole Posselt (Welfare Work – Harbor Hotel Antwerp), Jos Vanhof (AoS), Dorothèe Kubiziel (volunteer DSM), Marc Schippers (Sailors Soc), Jörg Pfautsch (DSM), Heike Proske (DSM), Gérard Favre (volunteer AoS), Paul Wilms (volunteer DSM).
Missing from the photo (taken 23 June 2015): Jorgedi Bago (AoS, is taking the photo), Brian Milsson (MtS), Ulf Radziejewski (Swedish Seamenschurch), Jesper Ek (Swedish Seamen`s Service).
Good to see the ICMA network in action!
ICMA was happy to be present at an ecumenical gathering of chaplains in Brazil this week. Our General Secretary, Richard Kilgour, presented to the gathered chaplains the history of our organization and how our code of conduct can help their work on the ground. Great to see this group gathered!
On Feb. 20, ICMA celebrated the installation of Rev. Richard Kilgour as our new General Secretary. The celebration took place in the beautiful Protestant Church in Oostvoorne, NL, in the shadow of the Port of Rotterdam. Many local supporters, a strong group of maritime chaplains and the ICMA ExComm were in attendance.
It became apparent once again that the members of the International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA) benefit from our Association when individual members share expertise and publicly support one another’s goals.
Commodore David Dickens (The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishers), Alexander Campbell (Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest) and Reverend Hennie la Grange (outgoing general secretary of ICMA) met at the QVSR in East London on Friday.
From the meeting it was clear that funding was increasingly difficult to find. While funders have changed their funding priorities and have developed application procedures to ensure diligent grant giving, it has become tougher to get money for crucial services and emergency response. It was floated that, perhaps, the changing needs of the welfare sector have not been recognised or understood by our traditional supporters.
While funders were reluctant to support hostel-style accommodation in London, the QVSR boasted 99% occupation levels each year. QVSR’s longer term residents from maritime backgrounds tended to resist being re-housed in council-supported private accommodation, as they needed the maritime feel of the Rest and its sense of community. Years at sea have severed their links to onshore community life, and that is what the Seamen’s Rest is able to provide.
Similarly the Fisherman’s Mission has deepening concern for foreign seafarers working in fishing. Recent incidents of foreign sailors incarcerated for being in the UK illegally, abandoned here due to failed contracts (a recent case highlighted by AOS GB), and of families abroad left destitute after loss of a fisher’s life, strengthens the Fishers Mission’s resolve to use the ICMA network internationally to reach these families, and to roll out assistance to international seafarers.
The leaders of RNMDSF and QVSR came away from the meeting committed to helping one another in matters of faith and resolved to collaborate on matters ofmutual interest.
The Reverend Jason Zuidema, the new Executive Director of ICMA member the North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMMA) took time our from a holiday in Europe to meet Father Bruno Ciceri and his team. Father Bruno is Head of Apostleship of the Sea International situated in the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People at the Holy See, Vatican, Rome. Ecumenical working was on the agenda.
NAMMA Notes reported that Zuidema also met Fr. Gabriele Bentoglio, Under-Secretary of the Pontifical Conuncil, then Mgr. Joseph Kalathiparambil, Secretary, and finally Antonio Maria Cardinal Veglio, President.
All of them strongly encouraged the work of ministries to seafarers and encouraged NAMMA in its work together. Fr. Ciceri was most encouraging and a delightful lunch companion. We had a long and in-depth conversation about strategic opportunities for AOS, ICMA, and NAMMA. Though much was just to get to know each other personally, there were a number of topics that we hope can be useful for common work in future conversations like those the participants will have our conference in August.
Jason was encouraged to see individual ministries and ministry orders thinking creatively and facing the hard questions we all face with humility and courage. Specifically, he thought about encouragement as we plan for the coming NAMMA conference. Know that we are not alone and that common work together is worth the work. Actually, Fr. Ciceri brought it home in a memorable way. He said, “if we bring nothing to the NAMMA or ICMA table, we will get nothing from the table.”
The General Secretary of the International Christian Maritime Association has come to the end of his term in the role. Reverend Hennie la Grange will leave ICMA at the end of July 2013 after being in post since July 1st 2007. He will leave the office on July 15th. Hennie wrote:
The Strategic Review is moving ICMA forward in leaps and bounds. The Association has now arrived on the eve of a new era that promises to strengthen ICMA by transforming the secretariat and promoting the work of its members. These challenges call for new skills and fresh commitment. The last decade’s implementation of the GRUBB Report, ICMA’s previous review, and the ever changing environment of our ministries have led ICMA to branch out and break new ground.
I am gratified by the time I spent with ICMA. Moving across continents to take up this role has been worth every sacrifice.
I have been blessed with a world of new friends and family in faith. I have met remarkable people. I have discovered treasures in Christ’s church that I had never imagined. I have seen growing unity. Together we have celebrated difference. We have shared moments of great achievement while battling the complexities of life and work. We have seen excellence and failure, and together we have overcome. We have experienced firsthand the love of Our Father at work in this unique ecumenical community. Of course ecumenical communities need nurturing, and tolerance remains key. God’s Spirit, I pray, will help you to guard over this precious chunk of his kingdom.
I have the utmost respect for port chaplains who serve God and care passionately for his people of the sea. I thank God for you. Your labours, performed against impossible odds, are an inspiration. May God bless you with fulfilment, as that is the reward, I know, you desire most.
I hope that I have been able to contribute, just a little, to Christian unity, to the dignity of port chaplains and to the wellbeing of seafarers, fishers and their families.
I hope that I may have instilled in the industry and among our partners in the welfare sector, a sense of faith’s value in inspiring selfless commitment to care.
I hope that ICMA, its members and its chaplains, are a little more valued as a resource that can be relied upon even to swim that extra mile, when walking on the water is not an option.
Thank you all for having me! Thank you for your friendship and hospitality. I have not always been able to deliver what was expected or required, but you loved me all the same, as Christians do.