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To thank you for your warm and generous friendship and support last year, I am delighted to share with you our Annual Review of 2017. (Read our Annual Review here). This details some of the ways your support has enabled us the Apostleship of the Sea to assist the lives of seafarers and fishers around the world.

I hope you will be both informed and inspired by reading about the work of our port chaplains and volunteers, now numbering over a thousand across the world, who are making a huge difference to the lives of seafarers, fishermen and their families.

One of the main responsibilities of an AoS port chaplain and ship visitor is to help Catholic seafarers feel connected to the Church on shore and its celebration of the liturgical seasons.

Being at sea for months at a time means not just that you don’t see your family but also that you have few opportunities to receive the sacraments and cannot be involved in the community of parish life. As ships are often only in port for a few hours, there is little chance of being able to visit a local church. This is why the visit of a priest to a ship is always a special occasion for Catholic seafarers.

When the oil and chemical tanker Horizon Thetis called at Immingham last September, the agent contacted AoS to say the crew had requested a Catholic priest to go on board. The crew had been left shocked after one of their crew mates suffered a heart attack and died while at sea.

Port Chaplain Bryony Watson arranged for Fr Andrew Cole from St Mary on the Sea Grimsby to visit the ship. “We boarded the ship to find the crew very quiet and sad. The captain led us to the conference room and told us that while they had been at sea, the ship’s electrician suffered a heart attack and died within minutes, despite the crew attempting CPR. Understandably, the captain and crew were very shaken and upset, especially the crew member who had the cabin next door to the electrician,” she said.

Bryony and Fr Andrew sat with the crew while they recounted the experience and talked about their friend. The captain told them of the years they had spent at sea together, and how both families – the family of the electrician back in Bulgaria and the family on board the ship – had experienced a great loss.

Fr Andrew Cole blesses the Horizon Thetis
The crew requested that Fr Andrew bless the ship (photo above), and most particularly the cabin of their dead friend, said Bryony. “It was very shocking and totally unexpected as he had been a healthy 62-year-old and had died within minutes. The captain was great and took good care of the crew. They were also grateful for our visit, for the blessing and for our being there to listen and offer some comfort.”

During Lent, Bryony and the other AoS port chaplains and ship visitors will provide materials to help seafarers reflect on its meaning and they will also try and arrange for them to receive the ashes on Ash Wednesday.

It is these small gestures that mean a lot to seafarers. They not only help them to grow in their faith, but they also let them know that they have not been forgotten.

I hope that you enjoy reading about our activities and achievements in our annual review, and look forward to your friendship and support this year. If you have any questions about our work from the annual review, do please contact me, and I will be happy to answer them.

Yours sincerely,
Martin Foley
AoS National Director

PS Lent particularly is a time for remembering the less fortunate and reaching out to them through prayer and almsgiving. Do please remember seafarers and the work of AoS in your Lenten works and prayers. May God bless you for your generosity.

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