Father Oleksandr Smerechynskyy, Apostleship of the Sea chaplain in Odessa, was elected as the new Regional Coordinator for the ICMA Black Sea, Mediterranean and Middle East Region.
The Region met in Odessa, Ukraine. Oleksandr is based in Odessa and operates from a small seafarers’ centre just outside the port gates. He shares his centre and works as a close team with colleague Rostyslav Inzhestoykov of the Mission to Seafarers. Together these two dedicated port chaplains did a magnificent job in staging a hugely successful regional conference. The organisation was flawless and every request for assistance was met with a smile. The outspoken aim was that everyone should have a relaxed conference, and that aim certainly achieved. The accommodation was first class, the meals were scrumptious, especially the traditional Ukrainian cafe-style banquet and the closing gala buffet. The conference highlighted the wonderful hospitality of the Ukrainian people. The speakers were clearly specialists in their field, and the chaplains eagerly participated in discussions. The organising team deserve our gratitude and congratulations on a job very well done.
What struck me was the committed dedication and unfailing enthusiasm of the region’s chaplains. Almost all these chaplains face very difficult odds, yet their determination to succeed in their chosen ministries to seafarers was a credit to their faith. They love passionately what they do, caring for both seafarers and the maritime families who live locally. They are driven by faith that leads them to care unconditionally for all seafarers.
This regional conference was an inspiration. I commend these men and women to seafarers.
With the election of Father Oleksandr, Ricardo Rodriguez-Martos of Barcelona, a stalwart of the region’s ecumenical work, bows out as regional coordinator. It is fair to say that Ricardo has set the bar high for all our regional coordinators. Ricardo has done exceptional work for this Association. He has maintained close contact with all the chaplains in his region, and has come out in support of chaplaincy and ecumenical working as the core of ICMA’s existence. His region’s contact details are up to date, and he kept every port chaplain abreast of ICMA’s communications, adding to the Secretariat’s letters to chaplains a regular regional bulletin. The International Christian Maritime Association thanks Ricardo, one of the characters of this ministry, for his services to our Association.
In closing the conference, we prayed together for God’s blessing of the care to seafarers given by these men and women of the Black Sea, Mediterranean and Middle East Region. May these ICMA personnel be especially blessed, their vocational commitment strengthened and their relationships cemented in faith, that they may overcome the many obstacles that they face.