Ministry for seafarers addresses pandemic, war in Ukraine, in world congress

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For more than 100 years, Stella Maris, or the Apostleship of the Sea, has been serving sailors and seafarers on ships and in more then 330 ports spread across 60 countries worldwide.

Its global leaders have met in Glasgow, the city of the organization's founding, to hold their 25th world congress, the first time they have gathered since the pandemic, which drastically changed the nature of their ministry. 

Stella Maris, USA
We had merchant ships that were coming to us, and no one was able to get off of those ships because of the pandemic, but they still needed groceries, they still needed SIM cards, their phones would break. If they weren't going to get off of their ships for 15-16 months, they needed a phone to be able to contact their families.

Among the focuses of the conference was the changing pastoral dynamic for seafarers caused by the war in Ukraine, which closed the country's ports, although its sailors continue to travel on ships.

Stella Maris, USA
In many cases, Ukrainian and Russian seafarers travel together, they're almost always on the same ships together. So, what we have found throughout the world, actually, through our port chaplains and maritime ministers, is that we're all seeing them still work together, no matter if it's a port in my little side of Texas, or right there in Ukraine, they're still working together.

Pope Francis sent a message to the congress' participants urging them to continue advocating for the rights of sailors, a group that is often forgotten, despite that some 90% of the world's trade travels over the sea.

Stella Maris, USA
He cares tremendously about seafarers, he's always elevating them, and always reminding them that they're not alone, like in the midst of the pandemic. He knew that we had 400,000 seafarers stuck on board ship by June of 2020, and another 400,000 were stuck at home unable to go to work, and he heard that, he understood that.

The Pope has urged Stella Maris' more than 1,000 chaplains and volunteers worldwide to continue caring for seafarers after the pandemic, and protect the health of the world's oceans in the face of climate change.


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