Category Archives: Meetings

AoS USA Conference 2013

The Apostleship of the Sea of the United States of America has announced its 13th Annual AOS-USA Conference.  

Father Sinclair Oubre, seen here with Alice Robinson in Rome

AOS-USA members will gather in Jacksonville, Florida, from 23rd to 26th April 2013 for this annual event. The Annual Meeting is an opportunity for continued education and development, networking among AOS Port Chaplains, Seafarers’ Center staff and volunteers, Cruise Ship Priests, and Catholic Mariners devoted to their Faith and to the work of the AOS-USA, wrote Father Sinclair Oubre.

Highlights of the conference are set to include:

  • A one-day evangelization seminar led by Fr. Gregory Jensen of the Catherine of Siena Institute. http://www.siena.org/ 
  • Two-session training by Roy Paul of the London-based Maritime Piracy Human Response Program http://www.mphrp.org/index.php 
  • Presentation by Ira Douglas of Crowley Maritime Corporation Future Opportunities in the US Merchant Marine http://www.crowley.com/

Responding to piracy in the Gulf of Guinea

Reverend Ed Gbe

Chaplains from the ICMA West Africa Region have expressed concern about the postponement of the Regional Conference as piracy in the region escalates.  

Pirates have boarded another ship off the coast of Nigeria’s oil region, the latest in a string of attacks in the area.  It was reported that an unknown number of foreigners were kidnapped in the attack on the Armadah Tuah vessel.  If confirmed, this attack would be the third offshore kidnapping in the area in 10 days, following the attacks on Esther C on February 7th, and on Walvis 7 on February 10th.  Gulf of Guinea pirate attacks have been notoriously violent.  But the recent spate of hostage-taking is a new development in the tactics of these pirates.    In a separate attack, robbers resorted to the usual modus operandi for this part of the world, boarding a ship anchored at the Lagos port and stealing the stores kept on the ship.

Piracy off the Nigerian coast and elsewhere in the Gulf of Guinea is on the rise. There have been at least five attacks in the waters off Africa’s most populous nation this month, reported The Shipping Tribune

ICMA chaplains working in the region are keen to learn how best to respond to the needs of seafarers affected by pirate attacks such as these.  The Regional Coordinator Reverend Ed Gbe, assisted by Sunday Agbi,  wrote to the Secretariat urging ICMA to help them “…actualize ICMA objectives in the region for effective seafarers welfare care.” To this end, they said “we will need a strategic plan that must be worked through.”  Both Ed and Sunny believe that the delivery of welfare to seafarers lacks an overarching organisational structure and exposure to authorities and industry alike.

Ed and Sunny’s enthusiasm for an ICMA conference in Nigeria indicates the value of these networking and training events for local chaplains. An ICMA regional conference was planned for 2013, but had to be postponed due to the ITF Seafarers’ Trust’s strategic review.  It is hoped that a regional conference would be possible in 2014.  Meanwhile, ICMA intends to help the region to achieve its goals as best it can by other means.

ICMA strategic review continues

River Liffey, Dublin. Source: College Tribune

The International Christian Maritime Association continues its strategic review.  The Executive Committee meets in Dublin on 15th and 16th January to discuss the report on the Members Consultation held last year in Rome.

Crucial to the discussions continues to be the strengthening of the Association.  The Members’ Consultation has identified what the Association should be doing to meet the needs of its members.  The delivery of these services to its members hinges on ICMA’s ability to afford them.

The Executive Committee has invited members to comment on the report of the Rome review and to make proposals for the implementation of ideas and principles agreed at the Consultation.  The Executive meeting in Dublin will attempt to devise practiicable strategies within the Association’s limited means.

The Apostleship of the Sea in Dublin is hosting the meeting of the ICMA Executive Committee.  The ExCom is grateful to Rose Kearney who has assisted in making local arrangements.

The management of the ICMA UK and Ireland Region is set to meet at the same venue in Dublin on January 17th.  The ExCom has been invited to attend the region’s meeting.

 

ICMA Regional Conference announced

The ICMA Mediterranean, Black Sea and Middle East Region is to present its regional conference in Odessa from 8th to 11th of April 2013.  The Regional Conference was announced this week by the region’s coordinator, Deacon Ricardo Rodriguez-Martos, from Stella Maris Barcelona. The conference is made possible by a generous grant received from the ITF Seafarers Trust.

In a letter to ICMA chaplains in the Region, Ricardo wrote:

We are calculating costs for the conference.   We will inform you very shortly of the costs and the program planned for the event.  Some topics are already included for presentations to be made by specialists:

  • Cruise Ships ministry,
  • Ecumenical working and networking within ICMA,
  • Chaplains’ responses to the effects of piracy on seafarers, to be presented by the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme
  • MLC 2006, to be presented by Douglas B. Stevenson from the Center for Seafarers Rights, SCI New York and New Jersey
  • The welfare agenda of the ITF and its Seafarers’ Trust

However, given that this is a regional conference and that it is very important to take into account the concerns of the region I am asking you now for suggestions.  Please send me, not later than January 16th, your proposals for topics that you would like the conference to address.  Even if you don’t know if you will be able to attend the conference, send your suggestions. As far as possible we will try to find ways for people not able to attend the conference to somehow participate in it.

Only ICMA members from the region need respond to the request.  Ricardo can be reached at apomar@icab.cat

 

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.

Boet’s brother leads ICMA Southern Africa

The International Christian Maritime Association relies heavily on its regional coordinators to connect with its frontline providers of care to seafarers.  Boet van Schalkwyk has excelled in leading the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Region of ICMA.  His brother, Steve van Schalkwyk, has now been elected to succeed Boet as ICMA’s regional coordinator in the Southern and East Africa and Indian Ocean Region. 

Boet van Schalkwyk
Steve van Schalkwyk

The Reverend Johan van Schalkwyk, endearingly known to all as Boet (Brother), presided over two ICMA regional conferences and his team, headed by the talented Johan Smith (CSO), hosted several of ICMA’s SMT’s.  He facilitated the expansion of the region, which originally covered only the ports of South Africa, to include the east coast ports of the continent up to and including Mombasa Malindi and Lamu in Kenya, and the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius, Madagascar, the Seychelles and Reunion.  Their successful integration into the region is significant as these island states are francophone while the rest of the region speak mostly English.  Besides bringing these existing island ministries into the fold with the enthusiastic support of AoS’s Terry Whitfield, Boet was supported by the MtS’s Des Vaubell and Biblia’s Marietjie Beukes to set the ball rolling for the eventual establishment of start-up port ministries in Maputo (Mosambique) and Luanda (Angola).

Due to the close proximity to Somalia, the region’s ports have often been the first safe havens for seafarers after their release from pirates.  Boet ensured that his region was  well prepared to provide appropriate support to seafarers by offering, in conjunction with the MtS, training opportunities for chaplains on how to deal with survivors after their traumatic ordeals. It was therefore only to be expected that Boet and the Durban chaplaincy team were consulted by the MPHRP to workshop the good practice guides for welfare responders to people affected by piracy.

Boet has inspired teamwork and ecumenical working.

Boet has for the best part of ten years been the principle chaplain of the Sailors’ Society of Southern Africa. He retains this position.

But when the ICMA region met in Cape Town during October of this year, Boet decided it was time to step down as the region’s coordinator.  Boet’s own brother and Sailors Society port chaplain in Cape Town, Steve van Schalkwyk, was unanimously elected by the conference to succeed him as coordinator.  Boet has pledged his support for Steve in the transition period.   At the end of the conference, Bishop Jabulani, AoS Bishop promoter at the Catholic Conference of Southern Africa, who attended the ICMA regional conference, blessed Steve upon assuming his new role, and thanked Boet for a job very well done.

 

ICMA thanks Boet for going beyond the call of duty to cement the region’s ecumenical ties and for inspiring professional responses to seafarers in need.

ICMA congratulates Steve on his election as the new regional coordinator and looks forward to working with him for the benefit of seafarers and to the glory of God.

Finding new ways to proclaim God’s Good News

The 23rd World Congress of the Apostleship of the Sea is set to take place in Rome. 

 

God willing, this World Congress, the largest in recent times, will take place in the Catholic Church’s Synod Hall, Vatican City, from 19th to 23rd November 2012.  The Congress is themed “New Evangelisation in the maritime world”.  It is dedicated to finding new ways to proclaim the the Good News in ministries to seafarers.  

The Congress will include eucharistic celebrations in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Speakers from The Holy See will include His Excellency Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglió, President of the Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, who will welcome delegates to the Congress, and H.E. Msgr. Joseph Kalathiparambil, Secretary of the same Council who will introduce the Congress theme.  H.E. Msgr. Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Proclamation of the New Evangelization,will deliver the keynote address.   Fr. Bruno Ciceri, AOS International and member of the ICMA Executive Committee, will address the Congress on the AOS past, present and future in the light of the New Evangelization.

Other speakers of note will include Mr. David Cockroft, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), and  Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Director of the International Labour Standards of ILO, Geneva, who will speak to the subject MLC 2006: an instrument to promote seafarers welfare. Well loved ICMA personality, Ms. Apinya Tajit, Deputy Director of AOS Sriracha, Thailand, will speak on Problems and difficulties in providing welfare to seafarers.

Wednesday, November 21st is World Fisheries Day.  The Congress will dedicate the day to its ministries to fishers.  Thursday will be dedicated to the effect of piracy on seafarers and their families, and Friday to matters theological:  The Great Commission.  ICMA’s general secretary, Reverend Hennie la Grange, will address the subject: Ecumenism, new evangelization and maritime world.

ICMA prays for the AOS during its 23rd World Congress.  May your deliberations be blessed by God’s presence.  May His Spirit fulfill, enthuse and inspire you.

CLICK HERE for the full programme of events at the AOS World Congress XXIII

CLICK HERE to see a video news report on the Congress.  Source: Rome Report

 

 

Your views are important

 

The Chairman of International Christian Maritime Association, Mr. Douglas B. Stevenson, has encouraged members to attend ICMA’s senior representatives consultation to be held in Rome from 13th to 16th September 2012. 

In a letter to members Stevenson wrote:

Greetings from New York.

I am writing to all of the ICMA member societies encouraging them to come to the senior representatives consultations, and to come prepared.  Every member’s presence and views will be very important to me and other participants in the consultations.  We will use the discussion paper sent to all members as a guide to our consultations.  In addition, the ICMA Development Study Report remains a very useful resource for the consultations. I commend both of the papers to you for your preparations for the meetings.

I look forward to seeing you in Rome this September.

Yours sincerely,

Douglas B. Stevenson
Chairman, International Christian Maritime Association

Members who have not yet registered for the consultations and the Annual General Meeting are urged to do so as soon as possible.  Members are reminded that the ITF Seafarers Trust has pledged to support one representative from each of ICMA’s 27 members to attend.  This has been made possible by a grant awarded to the project.

Father Sinclair Oubre heads AoS USA

The Apostleship of the Sea USA has announced its new administrative Board.  Father Sinclair K. Oubre has been elected President of the Board.

Father Sinclair Oubre

Father Sinclair is a priest of the Diocese of Beaumont.  He currently serves as Pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Port Arthur. He is the Diocesan Director of the Apostleship of the Sea.  Father Sinclair Oubre has long been active in maritime ministry.  His involvement includes participation in the International Fishing Committee for the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, International Committee for Ministry to the Cruise Ship Sector for the Pontifical Council for Migrants and itinerant Peoples, President of the North American Maritime Ministry Association, Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee to the United States Coast Guard (MERPAC), Merchant Mariner Member appointed by Leon Panetta, President of the National Catholic Conference of Seafarers, Chaplain of the  Council of American Master Mariners, member of the Nautical Institute, Port Chaplain to Port Arthur Area Shrimpers’ Association and is Port Chaplain to the Port Arthur International Seafarers’ Center.

Other members of the new Board include Christopher W.M. Fogarty (Vice President), Father William E. Reynolds (Secretary), Commander R. Jon Furukawa (Treasurer), Deacon Patrick LaPoint (Port Chaplain), Captain Pietro Parravano (Fishers),  William H Watson (Recreational Boaters / Yachtsman), Captain George McShea Jr. (Merchant Mariner Board Member), Father Arthur B. Schute (Cruise Ship Priest Board Member).

Ms Michelle Homden, previously from AoS GB and the ICMA Secretariat represents the AoS USA at maritime events in London.

Visit the website of the AoS USA HERE.

 

 

Apinya Tajit at the forefront of seafarers’ welfare in Thailand

Ms Apinya Tajit, renowned port welfare provider from Thailand and part of the Stella Maris network of ICMA member the Apostleship of the Sea, addressed the Seafarers Welfare Seminar held in Thailand on the 2nd of March.

Apinya Tajit (far left) with other contributors at the Seminar

Ms Tajit, lovingly known by seafarers and ICMA members alike as “Jam”, addressed the seminar on occurrences of abandonment.  She shared the stage with Thai and international experts on seafarers’ welfare, including officials from the Royal Thai Navy, the Thai Seafarer Association, the Thai Government, the ILO and the Thailand National Seafarers Welfare Board.

Also in attendance were I Dewa Nyoman Budiasa (Buddy), the coordinator of th ICSW’s East Asia Seafarers’ Regional Welfare Programme and Roy Paul, Manager of the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme.

Apinya Tajit (second from right) at the Maritime Games in Thailand

Earlier, in February, Jam was prominent in organising the Maritime Games in Thailand, a sporting event for sea cadets.

The commitment of ICMA’s network to professionalism in caring for seafarers is widely acknowledged in the seafarers’ welfare sector.

To connect with Apinya Tajit and her global network of friends among seafarers and chaplains go to her facebook page at

http://www.facebook.com/apinyastellamaris