Category Archives: Ecumenical working

We are connected

“Even if we do not meet in person in the near future, we are connected through the many seafarers, who tell about our ports and seafarers’ mission.”

Kerstin Schefe, DSM Stade

In her contemplation of lessons learnt and friendships forged at the Seafarers Ministry Training held this year in Barcelona, SMT student Kerstin Schefe of the Deutsche Seemannsmission remembers the closing sentiments of the 2012 SMT:  we are connected.  We are one worldwide support group for seafarers with as many ministries as there are Christian churches and as much diversity as there are traditions within our Christian faith.  We are ecumenically connected to one another by shared faith and common commitment to care for all seafarers.

Kerstin Schefe wrote:

With a slightly Irish accent now in my English pronunciation I am sitting in the plane and think about the past two weeks.

I traveled to Barcelona for the Seafarers Ministry Training 2012 – to meet 12 other participants form different missions and ports of the big wide world. And I met “parts
of the world”, learnt from them and received something from them – not only concerning my language skills.

Through topics like Pastoral Care, Concepts of Mission, Cultural Diversity, the work of different seafarers’ missions, Maritime Law, a Port Visit, Inter Religious Dialogue
and a visit to the maritime museum various basic themes of our work were discussed.

There was as well time for personal exchange, helping each other, developing new concepts for the own work and getting to know each other. Apart from good basic knowledge, a new idea for fundraising I took as well “small things” for the daily work with me. It is a good idea when coming on board not only to give the gangway watchman a friendly welcome but to start with a simple “Welcome to Germany”.

And I won’t forget the faces of the other seafarers’ missions with their various ports and the newly developed friendships.

Satisfied I look back and remember positively a statement in the Maritime Museum of Barcelona: “When we end a journey, we are different.”

And now I am sitting in the plane, already to missing the group while I start smiling unconsciously when a statement from our farewell round comes to my mind: “Even if we do not meet in person in the near future, we are connected through the many seafarers, who tell about our ports and seafarers’ mission”

Kerstin Schefe, Deutsche Seemannsmission, Stade, Germany

Apostleship of the Sea World Congress XXIII, Vatican City: a showcase event

Pope Benedict XVI blessed the Catholic ministry to seafarers at the largest ever World Congress of the Apostleship of the Sea, held last month in the Vatican City.  In the first audience with a pope since the dedication of the AoS 90 years ago, the more than 400 delegates and guests of the 23rd Congress were witness to the Holy Father’s re-commitment of the Church to this vital ministry. 

The Congress will be remembered for its magnitude, its venue, its worship, fellowship and deliberations.  Themed “New Evangelisation”, the Congress considered new ways of witnessing to God in contemporary society where faith is reviled and rejected as irrelevant.

The opening mass was held in the iconic St Peter’s Basilica, moving from there to the John Paul VI Synod Hall for general assembly.  The daily celebration of the mass took place in full view of the magnificent sculpture The Resurrected Christ.   Delegates were treated to a private tour of the Vatican Museum, highlighting the Sistine Chapel.

The Congress heard presentations on the theology of New Evangelisation from His Excellency Msgr Rino Fisichella, President of the Ponticical Council for New Evangelisation and from Reverend Hennie la Grange, General Secretary of the International Christian Maritime Association, on New Evangelisation’s ecumenical application.  Seafarers rights were addressed  by Ms. Deidre Fitzpatrick from Seafarers Rights International and Dr. Peter Swift , Chair of the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme, made a moving presentation on the scourge of piracy.  David Cockroft, Secretary General of the International Transport Workers Federation, spoke on the challenges and opportunities facing AoS, and Dr. Cleopatra Dumbia Hendry, Director of the Internatonal Labour Standards of the ILO, presented MLC 2006 as an instrument for promoting seafarers welfare.  The Congress celebrated World Fishers Day on 21st November by dedicating the day to fishers issues including discussion of the Convention on Fishing.

The Congress, packed with memorable highlights from start to finish, had two very deeply moving moments which delegates will not forget.

  • The Master of a vessel held captive by Somali pirates for almost a year, came to tell his story of faith, endurance and compassion.  He spoke of his deep concerns for his crew, his personal terror, and of his forgiveness for the pirates.  The standing ovation lasted several minutes.
  • And on the final day the Congress moved to the papal palace for a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI, receiving his blessing for AoS and the Catholic ministries to seafarers.


Father Bruno Ciceri, Antonella Farina and the team have delivered a monumental event in the life of the Apostleship of the Sea.  The Congress has again proven the AoS is a vibrant and dynamic organisation in the ministry to seafarers, and this Congress will, no doubt, inspire the Stella Maris network to even greater things.  ICMA congratulates the Apostleship of the Sea upon delivery of this showcase event for faith-based care to people of the sea.

You can download the presentation of the ICMA General Secretary, Reverend Hennie la Grange, “New Evangelisaton in Ecumenical Context”, from our Publications page.

Report on ICMA’s Rome Consultation

ICMA’s members today received the first report on ICMA’s Members’ Consultation held in Rome during September of 2012.  The report is part of the ongoing consultative process to strengthen the International Christian Maritime Association.  Members are invited to comment on the report.  Further contributions and feedback from members will be taken into account when the report is tabled at a special meeting of the Executive Committee dedicated wholly to the strategic review.  That meeting is scheduled to take place in Dublin, Ireland, on 15th and 16th January 2013.  

The summary of the report, drafted by ICMA’s Chair, Douglas B. Stevenson states:

On 14 and 15 September 2012 the ICMA Executive Committee held consultations with senior representatives of member societies in Rome.  The purpose of the consultations was to include as many ICMA members as possible in a strategic review of ICMA’s future purpose, structure, and direction.  Twenty-three of the twenty-eight ICMA members participated in the consultations – the largest number of members ever assembled for a strategic ICMA review.  [This many members could attend due to a generous grant received from the ITF Seafarers Trust.]  The ICMA ExCom is seeking to strengthen the association by providing benefits and services to its members for the benefit of seafarers and fishers, by being responsive to its members and by implementing financial policies to sustain its operations.  To encourage widespread participation by all members, the consultations were broken down into six small discussion groups led by ExCom member facilitators.  The discussion paper entitled “Conduct of a Strategic Review of ICMA” was used to guide the consultations.   The consultations were very successful in engaging participation by all members present and producing many constructive ideas.  Although time limitations prevented reaching consensus on many of the ideas raised, all of them warrant further consideration by the ExCom.  There was consensus, however, ICMA’s value as a Christian organization that unites its members in common missions to seafarers and fishers.

“Return to the heart of faith”

Pope Benedict XVI

We must… recognise that… unity [of the church] is a gift from God, and may come to us only from the Father through His Son, because the Church is His Church.

We must not forget what it is that unites us: our faith in God the Father and Creator, revealed in His Son Jesus Christ, effusing the Spirit which revives and sanctifies. This is the faith we received in Baptism and it is the faith that, in hope and charity, we can profess together.

We, believers in Christ, are called upon to return to the essential, to the heart of our faith, to bear witness to the living God before the world.

Benedict XVI


Pope Benedict XVI was quoted by the Vatican Information Service (VIS).  The Holy Father was addressing the crisis of faith affecting even those parts of the world where the proclamation of the Gospel was first accepted and where Christian life has flourished for centuries, but where many now no longer perceive the absence of God in their lives as a form of deprivation.  And while the Catholic Church seeks to respond to this crisis, it does not intend doing so on its own. It poses a challenge to all Christians, he said.  The Catholic Church is responding with what it calls “New Evangelisation,” a return to the fundamentals of the Christian faith when addressing a hostile world.  Significantly, the Pope sees “New Evangelisation” as the shared enterprise of all Christians, with ecumenical implications: New Evangelisation presupposes the unity of the church of Christ, a unity founded on the heart of our faith.

New Evangelisation is the theme of next week’s Apostleship of the Sea World Congress XXIII to be held in the Vatican City.  ICMA’s General Secretary and minister of the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk van Afrika (Dutch Reformed Church), Dominee Hennie la Grange has been invited to address the Congress on New Evangelisation in Ecumenical Context.

Here is the full text of the article in VIS:

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