The Vatican Bishop charged with the pastoral care of seafarers visited the crew of the P&O Cruises ship MV Azura on Thursday 28th July, when it docked in Civitavecchia, near Rome.
At the beginning of his visit Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, from Catholic charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) or Stella Maris, presented Captain Derek Gray with the Apostleship of the Sea Crest.
A large number of the ship’s 1,250 officers and crew then joined the Bishop in the ship’s The Playhouse theatre for Mass; with many of them coming from Catholic countries, this was a particularly poignant moment for them.
Bishop Joseph, who is Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants, which coordinates the global activities of AoS, then toured the 115,055-ton ship, and had lunch with the crew in the crew mess.
Fr Bruno Ciceri from AoS in Rome, Fr Paulo Prigol AoS port chaplain Manila and Rev Roger Stone, AoS Port Chaplain in Southampton and the South Coast ports in Great Britain were also present.
Roger said this visit underlined the Catholic Church’s unique care for seafarers through its network of port chaplains around the world and those that sail on P&O Cruises ships as cruise chaplains.
He said the unique partnership between P&O Cruises and Apostleship of the Sea is greatly valued by crew, who know the chaplain is someone they can turn to for pastoral, emotional and spiritual support.