A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Apostleship of the Sea

Jeff Drane

Jeff Drane sm

Sunday the 13th July is Sea Sunday in the global Catholic Calendar. It honours seafarers, fishers, port workers and their families. The Apostleship of the Sea NZ is a Catholic organisation that ministers to these people who bring the produce we consume. They work collaboratively with the Mission to Seafarers (Anglican]) and the International Seafarers Society (the other Churches).

Seafarers are responsible for bringing more than 90% of products from one part of the world to our shores, to satisfy our needs and make our lives more comfortable. Yet seldom do we think of these men and women who often work for months at sea to bring us what we want. Many of us never meet seafarers, as most modern ports are away from the cities, and with mechanization and fast turn around times, there is little time for them to come ashore. Maybe this is why we call them the ‘invisible people.’

The recent global economic crisis has deeply affected the merchant fleet worldwide. Some unscrupulous owners use a flag of convenience to avoid adhering to maritime laws of seaworthiness and safety. Piracy is on the rise, putting in danger not only valuable cargo but more importantly the lives of crew. Seafarers often suffer trauma and sometimes death and leave traumatized families behind in countries of origin. At present there are still about 67 ships held for ransom. Many unscrupulous owners will not pay, so the crews face suffering and death. Remember there are women also in these crews. So you can see these seafarers give their lives in our service.

As there are many restrictions on the crews, the 6 Seafaring Centres of New Zealand we serve in – Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Lyttelton and Timaru - are the only point of contact for these men and women to be in touch with their families or a local church.

The Apostleship of the Sea in New Zealand is a Catholic ministry under the auspices of the Vatican so it is part of our ministry to evangelize and show Christ’s face to these people who come to our shores. 80% of seafarers are Roman Catholic Filipinos or from India. To continue to care for these people we need your help with donations to keep our centres going so the seafarers can contact their families. But we also need volunteers in our centres. You can be the face of Christ to welcome them. Please email jeffdrane@gmail.com if you can be a volunteer.

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