Category Archives: Ministry

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.

 

New Lounge for Cruise Ship Crews : Hamburg Steinwerder: Neue Lounge für die Kreuzfahrer-Crew

ICMA welcomes the continuing success of The German Seamen’s Mission in Seafarer Welfare for Crews in the Cruise Industry. ICMA General Secretary; Rev Richard Kilgour comments – ‘the fast expanding cruise industry sector means that the welfare needs of seafarers from ‘cruise ships’ require special attention. This work in Hamburg shows what is possible when mission societies, shipowners, welfare organisations, volunteers and others collaborate together in this way for seafarer ‘shore based welfare provision’.

The German Seaman’s Mission reports at their website: that the Seafarer’s Lounge for the Hamburg Steinwerder Cruise Terminal was opened on Friday 18th September. The ‘lounge’ provides access to phone or Skype communications for seafarers to contact families. A store with sweets and toiletries is also available. Personal counselling support is another aspect of the service for seafarers.
Jürgen Bollmann the President of the German Seamen’s Mission, and former Provost of Hamburg said ‘the Seafarer’s Lounge offers the sailors a “temporary home”.

Hamburg_Cruise_Center_Steinwerder_11

In 2014; 189 cruise ships with 600,000 passengers visited Hamburg. With ‘HafenCity’ and Altona , the Steinwerder is the third lounge to be established in Hamburg. In the same year altogether at HafenCity and Altona 15,000 crewmembers used the lounges.

These new developments meet a real need for seafarers today; who have limited time to come ashore, or to get out of the harbour. This work is funded by voluntary donations from ship owners, and organised by the German Seaman’s Mission. Volunteer support is also provided through the Federal Voluntary Service

Am Hamburger Kreuzfahrtterminal Steinwerder ist am Freitag(9.18.15) die Seafarer’s Lounge eröffnet worden. Hier können die Seeleute der Kreuzfahrtschiffe über Handy oder Skype Kontakt mit ihren Familien aufnehmen. Dazu werden Süßigkeiten und Hygieneartikel angeboten. Darüber hinaus stehen Seelsorger für persönliche Gespräche bereit.

Die Seafarer’s Lounge biete den Seeleuten “eine Heimat auf Zeit”, sagte der Präsident der Deutschen Seemannsmission, der ehemaligen Hamburg Propst Jürgen Bollmann. Nach der Hafencity und Altona ist die Lounge in Steinwerder die dritte in Hamburg.

Die neue Seafarer’s Lounge befindet sich direkt im neuen Terminal Steinwerder inmitten des ehemaligen Freihafens. Hintergrund für die Einrichtung ist, dass die Seeleute heute kaum noch Zeit haben, aus dem Hamburg Hafen herauszukommen. 189 Kreuzfahrtschiffe mit rund 600.000 Passagieren kamen 2014 nach Hamburg.

Träger der Lounge ist die Seemannsmission Hamburg-Harburg, die auch den Seemannsclub “Duckdalben” unterhält. Zwei feste Kräfte und zwei Bufdis (Bundesfreiwilligendienst) arbeiten hier gemeinsam mit einer Gruppe von Ehrenamtlichen. Die Finanzierung erfolgt über die freiwillige Schiffsabgabe der Reeder. 2014 wurden in den bereits bestehenden Lounges in der Hafencity und in Altona rund 15.000 Crewmitglieder betreut.

Quelle (auch Foto): kirche-hamburg.de

Source (including photo): kirche-hamburg.de

This report is shared from ICMA member The German Seamen’s Mission – Deutsche Seemannsmission.

AOS speaks out on treatment of stranded fishermen

Maritime charity, the Apostleship of the Sea (AoS), has spoken out on the way seafarers and fishermen are treated when they run into problems with their UK visas.  These seafarers are never without the support of ICMA member, AoS Great Britain. 

AOS ChaplainRecently four foreign fishermen, two Filipino and two Indonesian, were stranded in Newcastle, UK , when the fishing boat they were working on hit financial difficulties. The ‘Starward’ was impounded due to the owner’s financial troubles.

The crew had not been paid salaries since March. This meant that they were not able to send money back home to their families in Indonesia and the Philippines, with one crew member relating how his children were going hungry. As the crew were only contracted to work on this particular vessel they were not able to transfer to another. Also, as they were working on transit visas, the UK Border Agency had them arrested in mid-June and they were taken to a detention centre.  They were subsequently transferred to a Heathrow detention centre where some of them remain.

Throughout this ordeal the crew have been helped and supported by the Apostleship of the Sea’s Tyne port chaplain, Paul Atkinson. Paul has provided practical and emotional support, working with the AoS national office to try to alleviate the men’s stress and ensure they are fairly treated.

Apostleship of the Sea National Director Martin Foley said,

‘The application of immigration rules to these men has taken no consideration of their circumstances. It is appalling that overseas fishing crews who are stranded in the UK through no fault of their own are treated like criminals and subjected to treatment that has demeaned and humiliated them.”

Correspondence courses for seafarers

The Seamen’s Christian Friend Society, ICMA’s newest member, has offered its correspondence Bible studies to other members of the Association.

Martin Otto, author and port chaplain in the Port of Hamburg, Germany, wrote:

SCFS logoAs new members of ICMA, we would like to find a way of making a positive contribution to our fellow members, over and above our cooperation at local level.  [The] Bible correspondence courses [were] written by ourselves but we would be happy to make them available for other ICMA members to use free of charge and without the need for any copyright payments. These courses are not necessarily suitable for all seafarers, but they have been written in simple language with seafarers in mind. One attraction of these courses is that the seafarer is able to read them in the privacy of his own cabin without any pressure or undue influence from anyone else.  We find that seafarers of many nationalities welcome the opportunity to investigate the Christian faith in this way and thousands of seafarers have completed this course in recent years.

The Bridge

“The Bridge” contains a basic outline of the Christian gospel.  The student is provided with an answer sheet that can be sent to the distributing chaplain for marking. Some ICMA members might like to mark the answer sheets themselves – but SCFS is more than happy to see to this on their behalf if preferred. The Bridge is available in 24 languages. SCFS is able to supply ICMA members with a CD containing all these languages so that the courses may be printed off locally, as and when they are required for distribution.

Grace for the Weak

Grace for the Weak, another of the correspondence courses that SCFS are willing to share with ICMA members,  is very useful for ship-based study in groups or in ship-based churches.

If any ICMA member would like to discuss the use of these courses they are welcome to contact Volker Lamaack in Hamburg, at volker.lamaack@scfs.org

 

Faces of the Sea

DOSF-logos #425 June 2013.  Day of the Seafarer.

Tributes to seafarers are being received from shipping companies, unions, international fora like the IMO and ILO, in fact from almost all who understand the invaluable role of seafarers in all our lives.

The 28 members of the International Christian Maritime Association, our seafarers’ centres and chaplains, committees, volunteers  and staff and the faith communities whom we represent, all of us applaud seafarers on this day.

We pray that you are safe.

We pray that your family life is happy.

We pray for your company, that your job is secure.

We pray that you will enjoy the fellowship of your faith family in every port.

We pray that you will experience fulfilment.

May you experience how close God is to you.

 

The members of ICMA are dedicated to your wellbeing.  Call on us if you need support or assistance.  We are there, in most ports of the world, to help you, or simply to be your friend.

The Liverpool seafarers’ Centre has sent us their contribution of seafarers’ faces in celebration of The Day of the Seafarer.  Faces of the Sea 2013 Liverpool

 

Moving forward, strengthening ICMA

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:

Hennie Rome1The 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.

May God bless you all.

Hennie la Grange

 

At Anchor in Port Manatee

Seafarers in Port Manatee on the Gulf of Mexico can be assured of finding a friend in Anchor House.

Anchor HouseCelebrating its 20th anniversary of fellowship to seafarers at Port Manatee, USA, Anchor House is an integral part of the independent ecumenical Christian ministry to seafarers, affiliated to ICMA’s member in North America, NAMMA.

The Bradenton Herald reported that Chaplain and Director Tim Huppert and Chaplain and Manager Trish Alligood board ships with an outstretched hand even when they can’t speak the language of the crews to offer support, reading materials, worship and a listening ear to whoever’s on board.

More than 5,000 international seafarers visit the port annually. Those seafarers able to come ashore, come to the small building that houses the mission for free computer use, telephone access and other kinds of communication, as well as food and other personal necessities.

Port workers and various volunteers stop by Anchor House to help out or participate in programs or Bible study. Anchor House has Bibles in 30 different languages to offer seafarers.

A local port worker who regularly eats his lunch there, said it’s the environment the chaplains create that takes him back there again and again.

“You walk in here and its spiritual. These two touch us. They give everything, their whole heart and all, for everybody. It’s good to be here,” Stanfield said.

Click here to read the whole article authored by Dee Graham

 

Albert Dacanay retires from seafarers ministry

Doreen M. Badeaux, AOS-USA Secretary General has paid a moving tribute to Deacon Albert Dacanay, Canada-based Regional Coordinator of Apostleship of the Sea for North America and the Caribbean. Albert will soon be leaving the AOS Ministry for other duties in his Diocese.

Deacon Albert Dacanay and his wife Delia, his kids, his in-laws, the entire family in fact, have been a part of his ministry to Seafarers for many years now.

Doreen wrote:

I met Deacon Albert around 1995 or 1996 at a North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMMA) Conference. Later, we served together on the NAMMA Board and that is when I really got to know him and learned just how talented he was. He brought technological skills to the table, and created NAMMA’s first website. However, what I recognized the most at that time, was that he was a Maritime Minister who really did the hard work of a dedicated Port Chaplain. And, he had an inner calmness and spirituality that enabled him to work with everyone and to help ease tensions whenever difficulties arose.
 
Later, when he became the National Director for AOS Canada, I knew they had found a great leader. He went on to become the Regional Coordinator for AOS North America and the Caribbean. Though this is a position that has no funding, he took it on, and has spent a great deal of his personal funds to accomplish the goals of AOS North America.

Doreen speaks warmly of how Albert consulted and listened and advised wisely, smoothing over the difficulties that arise when change occurs. She witnesses to to his calming intercession:

There was one challenging meeting where Deacon Albert consoled and reassured me by saying “Don’t worry. Delia and I have been praying for the Peace of Christ to be present at this meeting.” Then the day of the meeting came. I got up to speak, and the moment I did, I felt utter calm. The meeting went smoothly and I knew that it was the Peace of Christ which had truly entered the room that day. There was no other explanation. I had never experienced that Peace of Christ in such a real way. I learned that it is very real, and I learned that from Deacon Albert and his wife Delia.
 
I’ve thought about that many times since, and have learned to truly pray for the Peace of Christ, for myself, and for others. So today, I would like to ask each of you to join me in prayer. Pray that the Peace of Christ will be with Deacon Albert and Delia Dacanay as they start a new journey.

 

ICMA most certainly joins Doreen in her prayers for the Dacanays.

Deutsche Seemannsmission shines at Kirchentag 2013

“Five days of sunny summer weather, ships, vessels, harbour sounds and more than 120,000 visitors made the annual meeting of German Protestant Christians, the so-called Kirchentag, an unforgettable experience. ” 

Viola Heutger, Volunteer from the Deutsche Seemannsmission’s station in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, sent this report on  impressions of the events at this year’s Kirchentag (Church Day).

Heutger wrote:

The staff of the German Seafarer’s Mission was involved in various activities of the Kirchentag in Hamburg from 1 – 5 May 2013. Conferences about piracy and “fair transport” and an exhibition of Cargonauts took place. Information stands about the seafarer’s mission and its work invited visitors to discuss the daily life and the working conditions of seafarers.

Two events stood out. Particularly memorable was the seafarers’ night service of worship in the old fish auction hall. In the entertaining three-hour worship we learned a lot about the working conditions on a ship. Reverend Sakari Lehmuskallio of the Finnish Seamen’s Church built bridges between the individual visitors and his preaching helped to put together a real worship community. At the Holy Communion the congregation shared fish, made from German “Brezenteig”. Finally, like sailors from the Philippines, the almost 900 visitors of the Seafarer’s Night sung along “I am sailing”. The atmosphere was marvelous.

Another highlight was a boat trip around the harbor to the Sailors’ Club Duckdalben close to the container terminal. A warm welcome with freshly grilled sausages awaited the travelers by sea.

Every evening the Seamen’s Mission Altona invited guests for barbecues. It was the perfect place to meet and greet new and old friends.

See also the film of the Seafarer’s club Duckdalben:  CLICK HERE.

 

Old enough to be “heritage”…

The years of service delivered by seafarers’ missions is often forgotten or underestimated. It is gratifying when port communities understand the significance of centres for seafarers. 

When The (Australia) National Trust recently hosted a conference on the future of Melbourne’s maritime heritage, it was acknowledged that the domed roof of the Mission to Seafarers is iconic to Melbourne’s port.  It is an unmissable beacon to seafarers and landlubbers alike.  Docklands News reported:

Maritime heritage links the North Wharf and South Wharf areas.  The Shed 5 and Mission to Seafarers on the North Wharf have together served in history and today present unique opportunities to restore the balance back towards preservation of maritime history.  The iconic dome structure of the mission building is a notable landmark for seafarers and many visitors daily. The dome and Shed 5 are earmarked for restoration and will become even more noticeable.

“But “, Docklands News asks, ” what if the mission building was not there?”  The building, it says, will be preserved as part of the City of Melbourne’s heritage.

“…The vision for Melbourne’s Docklands was developed as a result of an extensive consultation program conducted by VicUrban (now  Places Victoria) and the City of Melbourne. The vision recognised and builds on Docklands’ unique qualities and positions it to play a vital part in maintaining and enhancing Melbourne’s role as a global city.”

We who work from these buildings know that the structures themselves, though significant part of the local architecture, are merely the spaces from where the love of God is made apparent in acts of hospitality and the pursuit of justice for all people of the sea. It is for our fellowship and faith that we are remembered and valued by seafarers.