For seafarers visiting ports in Great Britain this Christmas, it can be a lonely time, hundreds or thousands of miles from their families. For many, the sight of a port chaplain from the Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) coming on board will be a welcome one.
Before Christmas and on Christmas Day, AoS port chaplains and ship visitors will visit as many ships as they can, taking shoeboxes and gift bags containing warm clothing, toiletries and treats.
The gifts and clothing are often given by the members of the local community and churches, who generously give donations and offer their time to help pack the gifts.
Besides the presents, AoS port chaplains also provide seafarers with internet and mobile top-ups so they can contact their families back home. Mass or Christmas service will be held on board if requested by the crew.
Christmas will be a busy time for the port chaplains and volunteer ship visitors of the AoS who will try and let seafarers know they are not forgotten and greatly appreciated for the sacrifices they make throughout the year.
The Apostleship of the Sea, AoS, is a registered charity and agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of England & Wales and Scotland. It is wholly reliant on voluntary donations and legacies to continue its work.
90% of world trade is transported by ship, and more than 100,000 shipsvisit British ports each year. However the life of a modern seafarer can be dangerous and lonely. They may spend up to a year at a time away from home, separated from their family and loved ones, often working in harsh conditions.
AoS chaplains and ship visitors welcome seafarers to our shores – regardless of their colour, race or creed and provide them with pastoral and practical assistance. They recognise them as brothers with an intrinsic human dignity which can be overlooked in the modern globalised maritime industry.