Thursday, 24 September 2015

All at Sea

Today a group of clergy met in Southampton at the HQ of the Carnival Group (CUNARD and P&O) to prepare us for Chaplaincy over the Christmas period.

Southampton Port Chaplain (rt) with a seasoned ship's Chaplain
Fr Roger, the Port Chaplain for Southampton (and half the South Coast) was on hand to give a broad perspective of the work he undertakes on behalf of the Apostleship of the Sea (Stella Maris, as it is better known among the Crew). Cruise liners make up only a small part of his job; there are many more men and women involved in running the many merchant ships which dock in Southampton each year, and F Roger seems to manage to get on board most of them and knows many of the crews personally having met them during his five years of service.

Atrium of the Carnival HQ
Carnival were great hosts,and told us about their work (very much PERSON focussed, both crew and passengers). They are on hand 24/7 in case of emergency and I know from peronal experience how good they can be at such times. When a Crew member died in Portugal earlier this year they had a member of staff on board with in 24 hours to assist his widow, and the next day flew another two staff members and me to meet the ship in Seville and stay with them for a few days to offer help and counselling - and a requiem mass.

The Headquarters of Carnival is very near the docks in Southampton, and we were shown round and met many who work there. It is a very large undertaking, and the dedication of everyone in the company is hugely impressive.

Seeing round the building gave a very different perspective (in all senses of the word) of the operation of the Cruise and Liner World.
Salvina from Stella Maris and Fr Priestly on top of the world

Salvina Bartholomeusz is the link all volunteer chaplains have with the Apostleship, and she is a huge encouragement to us all, ready to answer questions, give advice, and generally keep a very diverse bunch of clergy in some sort of order. Some of us are retired, others are in chaplaincy work and there are full-time parish priests. We included Irish, English, Indian and Philippino clergy - the last two especially welcome since many of the crew members are either from India or the Philippines.

Priests from Birmingham (IUniversity Chaplaincy) and Wash Common  (Parish priest in Newbury)
If clergy read this blog, by all means volunteer if you can for this important work; but realise that it means being on hand 24/7 throughout a cruise, for Crew principally but also for Passengers and that most days you will celebrate a midnight Mass for the crew as well as an early daytime one for the passengers. Above all, please support the work of Stella Maris - with money, if you can, but especially with your interest and your prayers.

Briefing Session


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