Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) port chaplains and ship visiting volunteers from North East England were commissioned by Bishop Seamus Cunningham at a Mass held on Thursday, February 4th in St Bede’s Church, South Shields.
In his homily addressing the two port chaplains and 14 ship visitors of AoS, Bishop Seamus emphasised the importance of a listening ear and a compassionate heart when ministering to seafarers.
“We must be aware of the power of listening. Very often people don’t want advice or instant solutions, what people need above all is a listening ear – somebody who will walk with them and show compassion; somebody who will enter into their suffering and their loneliness and their isolation,” Bishop Seamus said.
He said that AoS’ port chaplains and ship visitors would be very aware of what was going on in the lives of the seafarers they minister to – loneliness, home-sickness, culture, language, isolation, maybe struggling to make ends meet, anxiety and wondering how their families were getting on at home.
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“Pray, asking the Holy Spirit to inspire you, to give you a listening ear and a compassionate heart; to put on your lips the words he wants spoken and take from your lips anything that is useless or harmful,” Bishop Seamus added.
The Mass, which was followed by a reception at the parish hall, was attended by AoS supporters and parishioners.
Last year in the North East of England region, AoS port chaplains and ship visitors visited 2,054 ships and provided pastoral and welfare support to 41,080 seafarers. AoS covers the ports of Blyth, Tyne, Tees, Hartlepool and Shoreham in the area.