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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 106 (Suppl.-II), April 2008



Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care

of Migrants and Itinerant People



Manual for Chaplains

and Pastoral Agents

of the Apostleship of the Sea




Vatican City, 2007




AAS      Acta Apostolicae Sedis

AG       Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Decree Ad Gentes on the Missionary Activity of the Church, 1965

AOS     Apostleship of the Sea

CCEO  Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, 1990

CD       Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Decree Christus Dominus on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church, 1966

CIC     Codex Iuris Canonis, 1983

DCE    Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, 2006

DM       John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Dives in Misericordia on divine mercy, 1980

EMCC  Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi, 2004

EN       Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi to the Episcopate, to the Clergy and to all the faithful of the entire world, 1975

GS       Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, on the Church in the Modern World, 1965

LG        Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium on the Church, 1964

NA       Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate, Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-Christians Religions, 1965

NMI     John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, 2001

OR        L’Osservatore Romano

PB       Pastor Bonus, Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, 1988

PCPCMIP         Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

RM       John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio, 1991

SM       John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Stella Maris on the Maritime Apostolate, 1997

UR       Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis Redintegratio on the Ecumenism, 1964

UUS     John Paul II, Encyclica Letter Ut Unum Sint on Commitment to Ecumenism, 1995






Part I


- The Apostleship of the Sea: some historical highlights

- The Work of the Maritime Apostolate

- The Challenge facing AOS

- Responding to a changing maritime milieu

- Care of the universal and of the local Church

   . The universal dimension

   . The local dimension

- A missionary engagement


Part II


- The Priest

- The Deacon

- The Ship Visitor and the Pastoral Agent

- The Team Work


Part III


- The Port Environment and Operation

- Ship Visitation

- Planning a Ship Visit

- Safety on Ship and Dock

- Various Questions of Protocol

- Ships with Special Needs

- On-board Problems and Practical Aid

- A Word of Caution for the Seafarer while in Port


Part IV


- Membership of the AOS

- Promotion of On-Board Christian Community

- Christian Hospitality

- Host Families

- The Seafarer’s Family

- Students of Nautical Institutes


Part V


- Sea Sunday

- Annual Report

- Conferences and Meetings

- Directories

- Communication

- The AOS International Website and Extranet

- Funding

- Correspondence and Records


Part VI


- Ecumenical Co-operation in the Maritime Ministry

- Some Guiding Principles of Ecumenism

- Inter-religious Dialogue


Part VII


- Fishers and Fishing Communities

- Aquaculture

- The Port Workers

- Cruise Ships

- The Yachting Community

- Lakes and Rivers

- Preservation of the environment




Patrons – Prayers – Logo



Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Stella Maris on the Maritime Apostolate



Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea






Guiding Principles for Ecumenical Cooperation



The Regional Coordinator



AOS International Fishing Committee









Seafarers’ Rights and Advocacy



Glossary of Seafarers’ Welfare Agencies









This practical Manual offers guidance to chaplains and maritime pastoral agents and also to those who, for the first time, are given the responsibility of the pastoral care of people `who go to the sea in ships'. Based on Pope John Paul II Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Stella Maris[1] and on the 1990 Chaplain’s Manual, it has also drawn from the International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA) Ship Visiting Manual and from the Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) long tradition of service to the men and women of the sea, as well as from the experience of chaplains, pastoral agents, ship visitors and volunteers.

This manual considers also the latest conventions and regulations of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). They are the two United Nations’ agencies, concerned with the development and implementation of seafarers’ rights, working conditions and safety standards onboard ships.

Approved by our Pontifical Council, a central ecclesial pastoral organism which also embraces the pastoral care of the maritime world, this Manual will serve ordained chaplains, pastoral agents, ship visitors and also volunteers of the Apostleship of the Sea ashore and on board ships at sea.


Renato Raffaele Cardinal Martino





                                                        X Archbishop Agostino Marchetto





Part I





The Apostleship of the Sea: some historical highlights


The Apostleship of the Sea is the Work of the Catholic Church for the pastoral care of maritime people. The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, which promotes and coordinates the pastoral care of various categories of `people on the move', is responsible for the overall direction of the AOS (SM, XIII, 1). This Council of the Roman Curia participates in the solicitude of the Bishop of Rome for all the churches in the pastoral care and human promotion of Migrants, Refugees, Internally Displaced People, Foreign Students, Air Workers and Travellers, Nomads and Transient people of all kinds as well as all maritime personnel comprising the seafarers/fishers, land based small and traditional fishing communities, workers on oil rigs and platforms, pensioners, students of nautical institutes and port workers[2]. This pastoral care also includes the spouses, children and family of the seafarers/fishers and is now extending its outreach to cruise ships and yachting owners, passengers and personnel onboard.

Despite the fact that, just prior to 1900, various Catholic "Seamen's Missions" were in operation under various auspices, catering for the spiritual, social and material welfare of visiting crews in the ports of London, Bootle, Montreal, New York, New Orleans and Sydney, it was not until the early 1920s that formal approval was granted to the work of the international Apostleship of the Sea as we know it today.

In any case, in France, the Augustinians of the Assumption had founded the “Société des Oeuvres de Mer” in December 1894, with the object of bringing medical, material, moral and religious assistance to French seafarers and those of other nations, especially those engaged in the deep-sea fisheries off Iceland, on the Newfoundland Banks and the Faroes Islands. In addition, a formal program of ship visitation had been inaugurated by the members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in many ports in Britain in the late 1890s.

It was however, in the port of Glasgow, that Father Joseph Egger, S.J, launched the first branch of the Apostleship of the Sea under the auspices of the Apostleship of Prayer Society. It is recorded that during the first eight years (1899-1907) of its existence, over 200,000 seafarers were admitted into the Apostleship of the Sea. With the transfer overseas of Brother Daniel Shields, S.J., a key member of this group, the work lapsed and did not resume until his return from South Africa in 1920. Together with Arthur Gannon and Peter F. Anson, who continued to be the inspiration of this internationally orientated ship visiting group, they submitted the framework and constitutions of this young movement to the Holy See for formal approval. A letter of Cardinal Gasparri, Secretary of State, readily gave its approval on April 17, 1922. It conveyed the "approval and encouragement" of Pope Pius XI, "with the certain knowledge that so noble an enterprise, ably seconded by the zeal of priestly souls both secular and regular, will spread more and more along the shores of both hemispheres...".

These words did in fact prove prophetic for, what began as a voluntary lay movement of zealous souls, did evolve in a few short years into a world-wide pastoral and welfare organisation with, at the end of World War II, 80 centres functioning and an international council already established in Rome under the care of the Sacred Consistorial Congregation. The final seal of approval by the Holy See came with the granting to the Apostleship of the Sea of its Laws and Constitutions on November 21, 1957[3].

In 1997 Pope John-Paul II, in order to meet the requirements of special pastoral assistance for people involved in commercial shipping and  in fishing - as well as their families, port personnel and all who travel by sea - updated the norms issued by Pope Paul VI in 1970 by promulgating the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Stella Maris (SM).

In 1969 the AOS was moreover one of the founder members of ICMA, and since that date most Christian societies and/or associations active in seafarers’ ministry have joined in ecumenical cooperation.


The Work of the Maritime Apostolate

The Apostleship of the Sea “seeks to support the work of the faithful who are called to witness to their Christian life in this sphere” (SM, I). To this end, chaplaincy teams composed of lay people, religious, deacons and priests are sent into the maritime world. This mission does not only consist of charitable or social activities. Pope Benedict XVI’s Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est reminds us how important it is for the Church's charitable activity to maintain its specificity and not to become just another form of social assistance among many others. Professional competence and good organisation is of primary importance, but it is not of itself sufficient. In our apostolate, we are dealing with human beings, and human beings always need something more than technically proper care. They need humanity and heartfelt concern: “Consequently, in addition to their necessary professional training, charity workers need a ‘formation of the heart’: they need to be led to that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others”[4].

The Apostleship of the Sea, like the shoot that is joined to the vine, participates in the mission of Jesus. That mission is to bring to all the Good News that “God is love” and that every person is loved by God. Bearing in mind the words of John Paul II that “Love and welcome are the first and most effective forms of evangelisation”[5], members of the chaplaincy in their daily activities are engaged in

  • Encounter: the chaplaincy is a milieu of listening, dialogue, solidarity and unity. Together, members of the team learn to communicate in a true and meaningful way. They create an atmosphere in which encounters with visitors are opportunities for exchange at a deep level and for proclaiming and listening to the Word. Approaching people of all religions and cultures respectfully, without judging or imposing their own opinions, members of the chaplaincy endeavour to invite all to reflect on their own lives and futures.

  • Service: the chaplaincy team offers activities and facilities, charity (diakonia) and advocacy, to meet the practical, spiritual and social needs of the People of the Sea.

  • Celebration: the chaplaincy team seeks to accompany People of the Sea at significant times of the year and at important events in their lives. Through celebration of the sacraments and the Word of God, the chaplaincy team helps them to discover the loving presence of God in all these events.     

The task of AOS, hence, is to continue the mission of Christ himself, in the maritime world. Jesus cares for His seafarers through His Church and the Church, in turn, entrusts to the AOS the mission to offer pastoral care to all those who live from seafaring and fishing with their communities.


The challenge facing AOS

To work in the maritime industry seems to be the most difficult profession in the world, with the greatest number of work accidents. Moreover, with around 90% of trade being transported by sea, it plays a vital role in the world economy. In this context AOS tends to respond to the pastoral needs of maritime people as experienced in any particular place and time. It must therefore take into account the ever changing circumstances of the on-board life of the seafarer and the fundamental ways in which those conditions affect the seafarer's own family, be he/she fisher or merchant seafarer. In any case it is a specific pastoral care.

The other priority of the AOS is to help integrate the maritime dimension in the day-to-day pastoral concern of the dioceses, especially coastal ones, port-parishes and Catholic communities, lest we turn our backs to the sea and to its people. It is therefore an integrated pastoral care.


Responding to a changing maritime milieu

Globalisation is a phenomenon of our time “whose rules are still being written [hence the necessity] to invent a new world order”[6]. In recent decades, in fact, globalisation and the drive for greater profit have combined with technological advances to radically change the face of the international shipping industry. Ships are larger, ports are farther from city centres and turnaround times have been reduced drastically. Seafarers are increasingly being recruited from developing world countries where wages are lower. As a result, crews have become smaller and multinational, multicultural and multireligious.

All these conditions have increased the stress and overwork of seafaring, causing more fatigue and lack of community life on board, resulting in more social and cultural isolation for the crews. A recurrent complaint among seafarers is the inequality of treatment and insensitivity to ethnic, cultural and spiritual values. This is reflected also in the salary scales and ports security system.

Moreover, after 9/11, in accordance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS), new control measures were adopted with the result that seafarers’ access to shore leave has become increasingly difficult and costly, rendering the need for ship visiting and hospitality even more pressing, even if more difficult.

In addition, national shipping and fishing fleets are being replaced by international companies. Many ships are registered under the so-called “flags of convenience” and the link between owner and ship is not always apparent or identifiable.

As far as the fishing industry is concerned, it remains one of the most dangerous professions in the world. Moreover, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and also regulations which do not take into account essential needs of fishing communities, put considerable pressure on these communities and on the social environment. On certain fishing vessels and for the majority of traditional, small-scale fishermen in developing countries, living and working conditions are appalling. Many fishing ports and communities, once thriving, are now economically depressed areas and a whole way of life, if not their very existence, is being threatened.

The cruise sector, on the contrary, is the fastest growing of the shipping industry. AOS must recognise this new challenge and especially that the conditions of ministry in the Cruise Industry are different and specific. This new challenge includes:

  • Pastoral care to multinational crews in large and very large Cruise ships;

  • Providing services to hotel staff and other “non-traditional seafarers”;

  • Supporting greater numbers of women working at sea;

  • Ministering to those who regularly holiday at sea.

We observe also that the ministry to those on yachts and sailing vessels, to their skippers, crew and passengers is also growing. In any case we observe that those of the yacht community most in need of support and advocacy are the paid yacht crews.

Some international sailing competitions bring also together thousands of people, sailors, their families, support teams and journalists, who may be away from home for months at a time and also deserve all our pastoral specific concern.

In spite that the shipping trade is currently enjoying a period of growth and that the demand for fisheries products is unprecedented, it is a fact that globalisation, criminalisation of the seafarer, work related pressure and fatigue is putting the dignity and the health of the human persons involved in shipping and fishing under heavy strain. So one can say that today merchant seamen and fishers remain marginal people as a professional group, irrespective of national or cultural background.

In this context, confronted with profit at all cost, marginalisation and nationalistic attitudes, the Christian alternative is solidarity. In fact, the principles of the dignity of the human person and of the common good of all are a basic tenet of the Church’s Social Teaching. Solidarity, of course, demands a change of mentality and a commitment to give a humane face to globalisation. “Profound and rapid changes make it more necessary that no one ignoring the trend of events, content himself with a merely individualistic morality. It grows increasingly true that the obligations of justice and love are fulfilled only if each person, contributing to the common good, according to his own abilities and the needs of others, also promotes and assists the public and private institutions dedicated to bettering the conditions of human life”[7].


Care of the universal and of the local Church


The universal approach


It is necessary to emphasize that the Apostleship of the Sea, under the overall direction of the PCPCMIP, is not merely another Organisation within the Catholic Church. It is, by its approved Norms and Constitution updated by the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Stella Maris, an integral part of the pastoral structure of the universal Church.

This is clearly a consequence of the Decree of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council Christus Dominus, on the Pastoral Office of Bishops, which says: "Special concern should be shown for those members of the faithful who, on account of their way of life, are not adequately catered for by the ordinary pastoral ministry of the parochial clergy or are entirely deprived of it. These include the many migrants, exiles and refugees, seafarers and airmen, nomads and others of this kind. Suitable pastoral methods must be developed to provide for the spiritual life of people on holiday. Conferences of bishops and especially national Conferences, should give careful consideration to the more important questions relating to these categories. They should determine and provide, by common agreement and united effort, suitable means and directives to cater for their spiritual needs. In doing this they should give due consideration to the norms determined, or to be determined, by the Holy See, adapting them to times, places and people"[8].

Thus, in his first Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, the Holy Father Benedict XVI highlights the urgency of the exercise of charity, a responsibility for each of the faithful and for the entire ecclesial community at every level: it is a constitutive element and belongs to the fundamental structure of the Church (cf. DCE, 20). The exercise of charity (diakonia) exercised in a communitarian, orderly way is part of the fundamental structure of the Church (cf. ibid., 21), because “along with the administration of the sacraments and the proclamation of the word: love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to her as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel. The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word” (ibid., 22).


The local dimension


The practical implementation of a pastoral outreach to the people of the sea in any region, diocese or port, is the responsibility of the local Church. To ensure this the Apostolic Letter Stella Maris provides for the appointment by the Episcopal Conference of a Bishop Promoter to supervise, foster and promote the AOS (cf. SM, IX, 1). “The Bishop-Promoter will choose a suitable priest and present his name to the Episcopal Conference which will then appoint him, in writing and for a determined period of time, as National Director of the AOS” (Art. IX, 2). The duties and responsibilities of the Bishop Promoter and of the National Director are set out in detail in Art. X and XI of the mentioned Apostolic Letter.

It further specifies that the right and duty of the Bishop of a diocese is to determine the most suitable forms of pastoral care for maritime personnel and to appoint, in agreement with the National Director, chaplains for the AOS in his diocese (Art XII). As far as possible, appointments to this ministry should be characterised by stability (Art IV). In addition the AOS chaplain/pastoral agent “should be distinguished by integrity of life, zeal, prudence and a knowledge of the maritime world” (Art. IV), taking into account that a knowledge of languages, especially English, is also essential to this ministry.

To coordinate the maritime apostolate in a region, encompassing several Episcopal Conferences, at the suggestion of the Bishop Promoters concerned, it is the task of the PCPCMIP to appoint a Regional Coordinator (Art. XIII, 6). One of the principal tasks of a National Director is to maintain regular contacts with the Regional Coordinator (Art. XI, 13), in those matters which do not require the intervention of AOS International.

Priests, local Church councils and members of a port or maritime parish are also called to consider that the pastoral care of seafarers, fishers and their families and other categories alike, is also an integral part of their parish pastoral responsibility. On the other hand, it is of great importance that AOS maintains a good relationship with local communities: parishes, schools, and other church groups for the good of an integrated pastoral care.


A missionary engagement

The evangelisation and missionary dimension of the maritime ministry cannot be overlooked as daily a vast mission field comes to our shores. In fact today a considerable percentage of the seafarers coming into our ports are not Christians, many of whom nevertheless are open to hearing the Good News, perhaps for the first time. All people are equally welcome, therefore, without prejudice to their nationality, race, gender, religious or cultural background, always respecting their persons, culture and religion.

In this context we must be careful because “today many people understand the term mission to mean aggressive activity and behaviour, based on an exclusive claim to truth, which is intolerant towards other concepts and beliefs: a kind of spiritual colonisation that destroys cultures and developed and organised religions. This misunderstanding may certainly lead to wrong behaviour by some individuals”[9]. This is why the Church rejects all forms of proselytism, which are incompatible with the Gospel, as they involve deception, pressure, and promises of benefits, financial or otherwise.

The Holy Father Benedict XVI in his Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, is very clear on the matter: “Charity, furthermore, cannot be used as a means of engaging in what is nowadays considered proselytism. Love is free; it is not practised as a way of achieving other ends and those who practise charity in the Church's name will never seek to impose the Church's faith upon others. They realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love” (DCE, 31).

In any case, true missionary activity is the manifestation of God’s plan for the salvation of the world and the fulfilment of history[10], and we are God's co-workers and the maritime world is God's field (cf. 1 Cor 3,9). All Christians are called to give, with patience and humility, reasons for the faith and hope that sustain and give sense to their lives (cf. 1 Pt 3:15). They do so by being witnesses of the Good News of Jesus Christ, bearing in mind that all witnessing must be altruistic and disinterested. However, “the presentation of the Gospel message is not an optional contribution for the Church. It is the duty incumbent on her by the command of the Lord Jesus, so that people can believe and be saved. This message is necessary. It is unique. It cannot be replaced”[11].

But the approach of Apostleship of the Sea to evangelisation has always been holistic and it has understood its mission to concern every person and the whole person. The Second Ecumenical Vatican Council endorses this approach: “The joys and the hopes, the grieves and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the grieves and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts”[12].


Part II




The Priest

We refer here particularly to a port parish priest or to a port chaplaincy. In fact, without an actual commitment of the port parish, in the case of smaller ports, nothing much will happen and even the engagement on the part of existing lay members of the AOS needs to endure the involvement, support and encouragement of the pastor. On the other hand, the interest of the parish priest and the positive approach to such an existing group, will help ease him into an area of his parochial responsibility that may well be strange and foreign to him.

In any case, when the priest is not a fulltime chaplain, the existence of lay apostolic groups, under whatever auspices they may be operating, does not discharge this pastoral responsibility. In fact, he would be expected to give his full support and occasionally to visit ships in port or hospitalised seafarers and be available for the priestly ministry, which may include on-board Mass. A good part of this apostolic effort can be fulfilled of course by the members of the parish pastoral team. Nevertheless, the parish priest role would be that of guide, leader and inspirer of the apostolic group.

In the event that the newly appointed port chaplain/parish priest does not find such an apostolic group in place, he will face the task of founding one. A neighbouring port or even another AOS organisation from another country, experienced in the matter, may be prepared with due permission, to `loan' one of their active priests or lay members to help with the formation and orientation of such an apostolic group.

Many ports still do not have a Centre or the usual facilities for visiting ships and welcoming seafarers. Even then, especially with the help of volunteers, operating from other premises, it is still possible to offer a whole range of services, such as ship visiting, transport to the city for religious services and others, shopping, sightseeing or sport.


The Deacon

The Pastoral care of the “People of the Sea” has frequently been described as a “frontier ministry”. Our chaplaincy teams often cater for an invisible and transient flock. This apostolate needs committed faithful, lay and ordained, who accept to give their lives to share the joys and the sufferings of so many people who, because of their working conditions and social circumstances, are far from the Church.

In fact, more and more permanent Deacons are fully engaged in the AOS. Our experience has shown that the Permanent Diaconate is particularly well suited to this apostolate and is a blessing to the AOS, which is often a ministry of presence and service. Etymologically, the word diaconate means “service”, not limited of course to material things but also extended to the proclamation of the Word and the Liturgy. The vocation of Deacons “in communion with the Bishop and his group of priests”[13], in fact, by virtue of their ordination and of the sacramental grace, is to proclaim the Word of God, officiate in the Liturgy, and serve the People of God. This three-fold responsibility, in the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI, constitutes the Church's deepest nature (Cf. DCE 25) and the heart of all Christian pastoral care.

In rediscovering the role and function of the Permanent Deacon in the hierarchy, the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council has made a great and precious gift to the Church. In the exercise of their ordained ministry, by listening, sharing and empowering, they manifest the solicitude of the Church and are the sign of the presence of Jesus, the Servant. We pray therefore that in the coming years, as we see the development of the Permanent Diaconate in the universal Church, many more Deacons respond to the call to dedicate their lives to the pastoral care of the “People of the Sea”.


The Ship Visitor and the Pastoral Agent

A ship visitor/pastoral agent is someone who “can substitute for the chaplain in matters which do not require the ministerial priesthood” (SM, VIII). He/she must have received a solid religious and human formation, and have followed specific training for this apostolate. He/she should enjoy meeting people of different nationalities and religions and be eager to communicate with everybody onboard without exception, and to make a port a caring and friendly place for the travel-weary seafarer. He/she should be able and willing to know and use common greetings and phrases in  international languages other than his/her own, and be an accomplished listener and a capable counsellor. While conversing, the chaplain/pastoral agent should not seek to impose a personal cultural, religious or moral view, but be interested in a sharing that may well include a respectful and non coercive presentation of the values of the Gospel.

The ship visitor, if he is not already a member of the local parish community, should strive to maintain good liaison with it and, in a spirit of ecumenical fellowship, seek to cooperate with ship visitors representing other Christian denominations or agencies in the same port area.


Team Work

Chaplains, pastoral agents and volunteers are called to work as a team. In such a composite organisation, team work guarantees continuity and mutual support and that all those engaged in the same apostolate, as far as possible, share a common vision and spirituality. In order to foster the active participation of all those involved in this apostolate and to ensure a sharing of responsibilities, it is recommended that each AOS, at national level and at local level whenever practical, be managed by a “Board” or “Committee”.

This Committee, depending on existing  local traditions or the decision of the local Bishop, could be either advisory or have executive powers and its members could either be appointed or elected. At local level it should comprise as ex officio members the AOS chaplain/s or his substitute, and at national level the Bishop of the diocese/the Bishop Promoter, or his representative, and the National Director. Memberships should be renewed regularly.

Such Committees or Boards should meet on a regular basis, no less than quarterly, to review the past activities, determine new ones and to ensure that the work of the maritime apostolate in this particular area is being conducted properly according to the norms set out in the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Stella Maris.

Prayer is an essential part of the team-building process. It is important that the chaplaincy  members and volunteers meet regularly for times of prayer and participate together in the Eucharist. Team meetings should include a reflection on ministry undertaken (ship visiting, parish link, etc.), Bible study and meditation. Pilgrimages and retreats also provide good occasions for reaffirming AOS spirituality and identity.


Part III





The port environment and operation

Each port has its own “culture“ and it is necessary to be familiar with it. Good contacts with the Port Authorities, shipping lines, marine terminals, ship agents and regulatory agencies are fundamental. An AOS chaplain/pastoral agent, to be effective in this apostolate, must strive to know firsthand the maritime personnel and their working and living conditions and build a certain type of presence, excluding no one, to all the different groups on the waterfront. Let us also remember that AOS chaplaincy is very much a workplace ministry, and that all “maritime personnel” (SM, II b), including port workers, are entrusted to our pastoral care.

A Port Welfare Committee (PWC) is a forum in which representatives of all those organisations concerned with the welfare of seafarers visiting and residing within their ports can meet on a regular basis. The PWC is crucial for the smooth running of the port, it can ensure liaison with all stakeholders in the port and facilitates better support services to seafarers. Normally there should be provisions in the statutes of every PWC for the representation of the Church or religious associations, hence AOS, on the Committee. There may be other seafarers' agencies (religious or otherwise), unions and ship owners’ associations, active within the port facility; cooperation with them, whenever possible or feasible, is important.

In principle, the port authorities in the person of the Harbour Master or Wharf Superintendent, will, when so requested, provide up-to-date information on the port activities and the movement of shipping, to the chaplain or to his duly authorised representative. We should bear in mind, however, the new security restrictions mentioned above, which have, in many regions, resulted in changes in ship visiting practice and may constitute, if not properly addressed, serious obstacles to our apostolate. Also, with modern technology, reduced crew numbers and new cargo handling procedures, crews are fully occupied and tired, and have little free time in port; sensitivity needs to be displayed therefore in timing a visit.

The visiting seafarer, he may be a merchant mariner or deep-sea fisherman, or a member of a cruise ship, or of a yacht, has undoubtedly some expectations of a break from the regular shipboard routine while in port. The renewal of his spiritual and sacramental life may not be high on his agenda, but an on-board visit by the chaplain or ship visitor can trigger and give meaning to many latent expectations.


Ship visitation

Without an outreach to visiting crews, through the medium of regular and systematic visitation of shipping in port, the local Church would not exist for them. Seafarers and fishermen are a marginal and socially deprived group for a number of reasons and they can suffer from extreme isolation from familial, cultural and religious roots. This can result in broken marriages, drug and alcohol dependence and many antisocial behaviours. Regular ship visiting is essential if we want to truly understand and address the needs of seafarers and fishermen.

It is the Christian virtue of hospitality which prompts us to extend a welcome to them in the name of the local Christian community. “Remember always to welcome strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angel without knowing it” (Heb 13:2).

This Christian hospitality and welcome are especially manifested by visits on board ships. In all ports, large or small, the regular visitation of vessels arriving in port is in fact the cornerstone of maritime ministry. Every ship visit, however, must be carefully prepared, as some members of the chaplaincy team may feel uncomfortable and hesitate to go aboard ships, which can appear to many a strange or foreign ground.

A ship visitor be he a priest, deacon, pastoral agent or volunteer, must therefore undergo training and evaluation before starting work and his training should include the appropriate response to the occasional unfriendly reception onboard. Many ship visitors and volunteers are women, whose presence and commitment are greatly valued as they contribute to every facet of AOS work and apostolate.


Planning a ship visit

Preparation and motivation is the key factor to a good ship visit.  While the methods of accomplishing a meaningful ship visit depend on circumstances, in every instance, it is essential to listen well for a seafarer’s needs. Previous consultation of records of a vessel’s earlier visit(s) to the port and knowledge of the ship, allow the ship visitor to be more sensitive to the needs of individual crewmembers.

A good ship visit as well as being planned must later be evaluated and followed-up. If there are more than one ship visitor at the seafarers’ centre,  there must be an agreement about work sharing. In large ports, there may be other seafarers’ agencies or welfare organizations. It is important to actively seek ecumenical co-operation and make agreements with these organizations in order to avoid duplication of work and mutual interference or, at worse, competition.

The list of ships expected can be obtained from the harbour Authorities and the kind of programme, to be offered that day or week to the seafarers, verified. This may include access to communications, transport to tourist areas, shopping, cultural events, sports or recreational activities. By keeping contact with the local parishes, it will be possible to offer additional services. A crew may have many diverse needs and it is easy but unfair to make too many promises. Only promises that  can be kept should be made to the crew. The programme must remain flexible so that more time  can be spent aboard one ship, if needed. Priority must be given to short turn-around vessels or those berthed far from commercial transportation.

A record of ships in port and activities in progress should be kept. This may be a “paper check off list” or computer based.  With the development of communication, more and more cases or situations needing special attention are being referred to the next port of call or simply the next port chaplain is routinely informed of the ship’s arrival. In this regard there have been initiatives, known sometimes as the “Ship Tracking Programme”, which consists in keeping track of the visited ships and referring them systematically to the Seafarers’ Centre/chaplains in the next port of call. Working as a network is crucial to our ministry in order to ensure follow-ups and continuity.


Safety on ship and dock

The ship visitor must be familiar and comply with all pertinent national law and port safety rules.

He/she should be particularly careful to:

- wear a hard hat (protective helmet), high visibility clothing and safety shoes, especially in those areas in port and onboard where there is cargo handling;

- park his/her vehicle only in authorized and sheltered areas;

- familiarise himself/herself  with maritime jargon;

- keep free, when a ship is mooring, from hawsers and ropes. They may come under strain and break; allow the mooring gang time and space to do their work;

- check shore and ship crane activities before entering cargo-handling areas and keep an eye on their movements. Never stand under hanging cargo loads or in crane track ways;

- not overestimate his/her physical capabilities; be cautious on hard to mount, shaky or steep gangways; coming down is often much more difficult than going up. He/She should not be afraid to ask for help;

- go up and down shipboard ladders slightly sideway as this gives  better shoe grip and handgrip on ladder rails;

- strictly observe the non-smoking regulations onboard tankers and in the vicinity of oil and chemical cargo handling installations.

Onboard ships never:

      - stand where  he/she could be hit by falling rope or wire;

      - lean on guardrails;

      - enter a compartment uninvited;

      - run;

      - touch any equipment.


Questions of protocol

A ship visitor must verify that his/her organization has informed Port Authorities about his/her identity and purpose aboard ship. The list of Port Authority officials includes: port manager, harbourmaster, port security chief, customs, immigration, border police and ship agents. He/she must procure permission as required. The ship visitor must make himself/herself familiar with port control and security arrangements as well as with customs, immigration and all security regulations. Periodic communication with these agencies can build their awareness of the ministry of AOS to the benefit of seafarers.

He/she should always wear approved identification, as early and unmistakable identification as a ship visitor of the seafarers’ mission, makes boarding and a welcome reception more likely to occur. A “chaplain” should be recognisable as such. For other ship visitors, who should also be neatly dressed, the AOS badge or T-shirt or special jacket should be worn for ease of identification.

If there is a gangway watch aboard ship, he/she must ask for the chief officer and ask him, in turn, to be introduced to the captain. If the chief officer is not onboard, he/she should ask directly for the captain. If both are absent, then he/she should ask for the duty officer.  One must never wake a sleeping officer on a newly arrived ship. After introducing himself/herself to one of these officers and explaining his/her intentions, he/she must ask for permission to visit the rest of the crew. Whenever possible one should choose a time when the crew is most available: coffee break, after lunch or after work.

If the crew is at work, the ship visitor may have to wait for a break. However, there are others on every ship who can be contacted in the meanwhile such as the chief steward or purser, the cooks, the boatswain or the ship’s soccer team captain, if there is one. The usual meeting areas are: the recreation room, mess rooms, officers’ lounge, galley, deck areas. One must always knock before entering even if the door is opened and introduce oneself.

When  meeting  a crewman at work, he should be told briefly  the identity of the visitor/s and the purpose of the visit and that information material has been left with the steward, cook or whomever. It is helpful to hand out a business card or other material from AOS or the centre  as a reminder of the visit.

With some ships with sensitive cargos (e.g. ammunition or nuclear freight), it is necessary  to check with the agent and port security officials before boarding the ship or inviting the crew to the Seafarers’ Centre.

A ship visitor must always remember: aboard ship, he/she is a guest in the seaman’s home.


Ships with special needs

Crews who have spent a considerable time at sea, or who face a prolonged sea time ahead, specially need:

            • hospitality, recreation, sports, entertainment and comfort;

            • Internet access, books, magazines, videos, movies;

            • a religious programme.

For containerships’ crews with exceptionally short turn-around times, the priorities should be:

            • friendship and care for the seafarer onboard;

            • phone cards, transport to international telephones or to seafarers’   mission;

            • stamps, mail transfer and help with money remittances;

            • shopping assistance that could include providing   transportation;

            • up-to-date newspapers, magazines and books;

            • religious celebrations onboard.

If there are women aboard, they may be passengers, wives or working crew. Sometimes wives are put on the crew list. An opportunity should be found to have a conversation with them. If the situation calls for providing another woman to speak with her, the seafarers’ mission must be contacted. Offer of shopping assistance and suggestions for places in the city where they can spend their free time in port will be appreciated.

Children and mothers onboard need space to walk and play. They may want access to play grounds, public parks, zoos and other entertainment and recreation areas. Often they have special shopping requirements.

Students and cadets: if time permits, visits can be arranged with their age and peer group in the community and schools.

Sick persons aboard and hospitalised crewmembers in port are a chaplain’s priority. Regular “sick calls” are important during and after a ship’s time in port. Whenever possible shipmates or a translator should be taken along when making hospital visits. Assuring good communication between patient, hospital, ship and ship’s agent is crucial. Taking care of a hospitalised crewmember will become especially important when the ship has left the harbour and whenever possible, the help of the sick person’s compatriots who may be living in the city should be enlisted.

Seafarers, especially those left behind by their ship, in prison or detained by Authorities are in special need of pastoral care and proper legal assistance. Whenever possible visits by a representative of their home country or by fellow nationals should be arranged.

It may also occur that a crewmember has died on board. In such circumstances a special “Memorial service” (interdenominational if required) be arranged to pray and show solidarity in sorrow with crew members.


Onboard problems and practical aid

AOS is committed to solidarity. It is its duty to stand alongside seafarers and to show a sympathetic appreciation of the on-board problems frequently encountered within the general 'life and work' situation of the seafarers and fishers, including some glaring injustices under the heading of 'Seafarers' Rights' and welfare.

The Social Doctrine of the Church clearly reminds us of the need for concern especially for the suffering of those who are poor and powerless. The objective is to obtain justice and the necessity to always uphold their dignity. When we encounter these work related problems, especially when rights are ignored, we must always show genuine concern but never promise anything that we cannot hold or deliver. It is important to listen to all sides and usually we can serve the seafarers’ interest best by referring them to the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) representatives, ISAN (International Seafarers’ Assistance Network) or to one of the centres/departments for seafarers’ rights in New-York, London or Barcelona. We should be prepared for this by carrying a current list of referral names and telephone numbers of persons and agencies.

Material welfare can also be a serious issue and AOS is frequently called to express its practical support and charity. We look after seafarers who are abandoned in port and those who are sick or injured through accidents. During winter, warm clothing is provided and at Christmas gift parcels are shared with visiting crews. We must remember the saying in Holy Scripture: “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ’Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead” (Ja 2:14-17).

In the Apostolic Letter Novo Millenio Ineunte, Pope John Paul II commenting on “I was hungry and you gave me food” (Mt 25:35), wrote: “By these words, no less than by the orthodoxy of her doctrine, the Church measures her fidelity as the Bride of Jesus Christ”[14].

In the course of our shipboard ministry, we should be seen to be pastoral agents bringing Christ and the Good News of salvation into the lives and the environment of those who go to sea. Many regular ship visitors bring on board with them, a selection of reading material and information brochures about the port, city and Seafarers’ Centre, and about religious, sports and cultural events. Reading material, in the languages of the crew whenever possible, including the Holy Scriptures, newspaper, books and magazines, is always much appreciated. Also for isolated or short turnarounds ships, stamps, phone cards and writing materials are in great demand. When offering specifically Catholic or Christian devotional aids or literature, due sensitivity and wisdom must be exercised.

Predominantly Catholic crews may request an on-board celebration of Holy Mass. If this can be provided, with due permission and with the right on-board atmosphere, it will be a pastorally fruitful experience for the crew.


A word of caution for the seafarer while in port

Often port facilities are far from the city centres and in depressed or isolated areas. Public transport is either non-existent, rare or expensive. It can also happen that  these areas are controlled by local gangs of criminals which prey on foreigners, especially on seafarers. Seafarers in ports must be particularly wary of pickpockets and so-called places of entertainment which have only one goal, to divest them of their hard earned money. Seafarers  must also be reminded to strictly adhere to the customs and security regulations and not to accept gifts or parcels for a third party.

Upon arrival in a port the seafarer must be encouraged, as a matter of routine, to contact  the Seafarers mission who will be happy to arrange for transportation and a programme for  the time the ship remains in port.  


Part IV




Membership of the AOS

The local or national associations of Apostolatus Maris are known by various names in different countries: ‘Apostleship of the Sea’ in most English-speaking areas, ‘Apostolat de la Mer’ in most francophone countries - except in France where it is ‘Mission de la Mer’ -, ‘Apostolato del Mare’ (Italian), ‘Apostolado del Mar’ (Spanish), ‘Utume wa Bahari’ (Kiswahili), etc.  In general, the Centres or Clubs for welcoming seafarers operated by the Apostleship of the Sea around the world go under the name ‘Stella Maris’.

The laity is already assuming many responsibilities for the functioning of the AOS worldwide. This essential role of the laity, as the force behind the evangelisation and transformation of society, has been rediscovered and sanctioned by the Second Ecuenical Vatican Council. Every faithful Christian man and woman who live in the world and is in the workplace is called to spread the Gospel message in the heart of civil society. The clergy must respect and promote this vocation and mission of the laity “in the middle of the world”, working together in a spirit of dialogue and co-responsibility.

This is reflected by the Apostolic Letter Stella Maris, which highlights the role of the laity in AOS, whose duties are not predetermined or limited to a closed list of responsibilities; they are seen rather as flowing from their vocation to give witness in this environment with a Christian life. It is therefore the specific duty of the chaplain to seek such collaboration from the laity. He will promote the mission that all the faithful, and in particular the laity, according to their specific situations, exercise in the Church and in the maritime world. More lay involvement in functions from management to pastoral care must be encouraged.

AOS is essentially a volunteer Organisation and the volunteers play an indispensable role in its functioning. The vitality of an association is often in direct proportion to its number of volunteers. The recruiting, training and coordinating of volunteers constitute a priority for every AOS association. Chaplains and pastoral agents will be attentive to build up with them relationships of mutual respect, trust and friendship. The local Church, Catholic employees of the port, seafarers/fishers’ families, as well as pensioners especially of the maritime profession, are fertile ground for recruitment of volunteers for the AOS team. In certain “coastal or port parishes”, local AOS members are incorporated into and are supported by the parish pastoral council.

Since the AOS is a specific Catholic Work, membership, wherever it is actively promoted, is meant for Catholics. As well as sea-going members, there are shore-side members who are those actively involved in the apostolate, either through a seafarers centre, be it an all-Catholic, or an ecumenical organisation, or as a member of a port parish pastoral team. In some countries it is customary that after a period of probation a religious ceremony be organised to bless and present the badge or logo to new members.

Training, however, is of the utmost importance and no effort should be spared to offer ongoing formation at every level, as the maintenance of high moral and spiritual standards and professional competence of its members is the responsibility of AOS as an organisation. Courses, sessions and retreats must be organised regularly in order to help the members and volunteers deepen their faith and their commitment to Christ and to their brothers and sisters.


Promotion of “Onboard Christian Community”

The Celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist, “which brings about the presence of Christ, the author of salvation” (AG, 9), is the centre and summit of all Christian life, and must be encouraged whenever convenient, when a ship is in port. Bearing in mind, however, that the seafarer of today spends more than eighty percent of his/her contract time with the ship out at sea, the active and permanent presence of a formed pastoral animator (Onboard Christian Leader) aboard a ship can make a great difference in the life of other crew members. AOS, for this reason, seeks to promote also the “Christian Community Onboard” so that seafarers themselves can be the primary agents of the evangelisation of the maritime world.

Besides preparing extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist for sea voyages, the chaplain should “identify among seafarers those who display leadership qualities, help them to deepen their faith, and prepare them to set up and guide a Christian community on board” (SM, IV). This preoccupation to develop a truly apostolic laity in the maritime world merits without any doubt our warmest encouragement. Like all Christians in fact, seafarers are themselves called to the apostolate. They must be witnesses by the example of their lives, but also by proclaiming the Word of God in their conversation, their social life, their prayer and their work.

Prudent inquiry may reveal the presence onboard of such an apostolic Christian, or "Christian leader" as he is often termed. He may be an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist (EME) or responsible for an active prayer group on board, or of a group involved in Holy Scripture study, or there may be a regular Sunday liturgy without the presence of a priest, of the organisation of which he is responsible. The ship visiting chaplain or pastoral agent of the AOS would be greatly remiss in failing to respond in a supportive way to the on-board presence of such an 'apostle of the sea'.

The properly accredited “Onboard Christian Leaders” will exercise their ministry in the following areas: leading non sacramental worship and prayer groups, liaising with port chaplains and the captain for Mass on board ship when in port, being a point of reference for the Christian life and witness on board. EME may be appointed from “Onboard Christian Leaders” by their national competent Episcopal authority to exercise this ministry on their ships.

It is important that all chaplains/ship visitors be familiar with and support the current initiatives on the promotion of “Onboard Christian Community”. This support can also take the form of provision of appropriate faith and AOS support materials (liturgical and information leaflets, badges, T-shirts, etc.), which must indicate the local, national or international AOS origin.


Christian hospitality

“Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Rom 12:13). If there is one common characteristic that can be attributed to modern humankind, it is loneliness. Unfortunately for the seafarer this factor is compounded by the very nature of seafaring life. Maritime ministry will therefore be of necessity, very much a ministry of hospitality and welcome in the name of Christ and of the local Christian community.

Hospitality is a virtue, universally practised and appreciated. In Old Testament times there was a very strong tradition of hospitality, as illustrated in the lives and conduct of the patriarchs, despite the interminable struggle for existence. We are also conscious of the noble traditions of hospitality as outstanding features of social life and intercourse among other peoples, cultures and religions.

Hospitality is a Christian virtue and an integral part of Christian life. It belongs to the prophetic mission of the Church, and the emphasis of AOS on it, is a gift not only for seafarers but also for the local Church. The welcome of the stranger is a wonderful opportunity for us and for our community to be enriched by the presence of our fellow human beings. Each visitor should be made to know that he/she has come to a place of justice, solidarity, brotherhood and hospitality. As disciples of Christ, we recall his teachings and we commit ourselves to live by it: “I was a stranger and you made me welcome” (Mt 25:35).

AOS seafarers centres are “hospitality centres”, their vocation is to promote an “authentic culture of welcome”[15]. Our centres have often been described as “A Home away from Home”. We make our own the attitude to the stranger and the practice of hospitality according to the Rule of St Benedict “Receive a guest like Christ himself”[16], remembering to put at the heart of our Christian hospitality the celebration of the Eucharist, which has always been at the centre of the Church's life and which makes Christ, our bread of heaven, present sacramentally in our midst.


Host families

As a practical expression of hospitality, many ports have developed what is sometimes known as the "Host Family Scheme". This involves families who are willing, on occasion, to extend hospitality to visiting crews in their own homes. This may take the form of a family meal, a sightseeing drive in the family car, a guest at a family or parish outing and so on. Opportunities to mix socially and to meet compatriots or people of their own culture or religion are greatly appreciated by seafarers. In the case of Filipinos, who constitute a large percentage of the maritime workforce, this is not too difficult to organise as there are important immigrant Filipino communities in many major cities or ports around the world.


The seafarer's family

Seafaring involves separation within seafaring families for extended periods of time. This can give rise to rather devastating consequences for those separated. The problems were different in the past when seafarers tended to come from what are termed “zones of recruitment”, where the whole community tended to be supportive of wives whose husbands were invariably away at sea.

Very much to be encouraged at the familial level, are the various associations for seafarers’ wives and families, whose objectives are to attend to their spiritual, social, and material needs. Not only do they provide mutual support, but they are, in the context of the local Church, the natural context in which a specialised pastoral care can be exercised towards maritime people.

Long absences from home can cause heavy stresses in the couples of the seafaring families; whenever necessary, marriage counselling should be made readily available. Catastrophes, disasters and deaths (or missing at sea) have a traumatic psychological impact on the individuals, families and communities involved. The people who are concerned face severe trauma and need specialised support. AOS, at local and national levels, will often be called to provide such a response, this presupposes that its members have received the proper training.

Local seafarers and fishers staying with the family must not be forgotten either. They can be on holidays but could also be out of work, on sick leave, on refresher course or looking for a new contract.  Empowerment and support, especially for the neediest, is an important area of a chaplaincy.


Students of Nautical Institutes

Most maritime countries will have a number of maritime schools/institutes where seafarers receive not only their initial training in seamanship, but where they regularly return for refresher courses and technical updating. Some are designed to cater exclusively for the fishing industry. The majority, at least in the developing countries, cater for the merchant marine.  Shipboard life is by its nature stressful, and the seafarer is exposed to many risks and temptations which are compounded by loneliness and boredom, bad influence and alienation from his familial and cultural roots. If he is unprepared for this, he could fall prey to alcohol, drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc.  It is generally accepted that a special “Character Formation” is required for maritime life.

There is, in consequence, a serious obligation on the part of the local Church in the countries of departure or origin of seafarers, to make practical provisions, so that aspirants to the maritime profession would be also religiously and morally prepared. The AOS chaplain will regard the offering of this formation to maritime students as an opportunity to prepare them for a moral and Christian living on board.

These seminars should include topics dealing with responsible Christian living on board, in ports, in seeking relaxation, relationship with the family, financial matters and warning against alcohol, drugs and sexual diseases. In certain countries similar seminars are a regular feature for departing seafarers. These are organised with the collaboration of reputable manning agencies.

Those showing promise should be encouraged and formed as Christian leaders on board. To them a more in-depth formation should be imparted including: basic catechesis, biblical knowledge, liturgical and devotional leadership, basic group dynamics and counselling. Some who manifest a special devotion to the Eucharist, after consulting their Parish Priest and receiving a more thorough formation, could be commissioned as Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist on board.

With the support and actual involvement of the members of the seafarer's own family, the challenge of how to live a Christian life at sea and how to confront the risks of a dangerous profession and long absences from home, can be anticipated and provided for. In addition he should be encouraged to make all his sacrifices/efforts worthwhile and taught to manage soundly his finances.


Part V




Sea Sunday

In many countries Sea Sunday, or a National Seafarers Sunday or Maritime Day, is celebrated and it is a highlight of the maritime calendar, when special masses, pilgrimages and festivities are organised. This celebration is destined to all the Seafarers and Fishing communities, to those who are involved in cruise ships and yachting, together with all port personnel. On this occasion, we give thanks and celebrate, as we are especially reminded of the debt our society owes to all these workers of the sea and their families, and everyone engaged, in one way or another, in this ministry.

A "Sea Sunday" celebration helps to stimulate interest and support for the AOS. It also serves to focus the attention of the local Church and indeed of the wider community, on the presence of the seafarer, the circumstances of maritime life and the need for prayer and financial support for the Church's ministry towards those who are at sea. This observance is often celebrated on a common day with the other Christian Maritime Agencies and it is recommended that this celebration be coordinated at national level, in the hope that in a not too far future all can agree on a common day.


Annual report

Regular reports are necessary if we want to have a full picture of AOS as an international Work and develop its capacities for planning in order to advance its mission.  Consequently, a uniform method (SWOT analysis =  Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats) of regular reporting at regional, national and local levels has been made available, which has the advantage to be flexible and easily adaptable to each particular situation. To facilitate the procedure, the report form can be filled electronically.

Every person-in-charge in the AOS is expected to provide an end-of-the-year report on his pastoral work to the National Director in each country. This, in turn, forms the basis of a National Report, which is presented through the National Director to the Bishop Promoter, to the Regional Coordinator, to the Episcopal Conference and to the PCPCMIP in Rome. This undoubtedly does involve some discipline on the part of all those involved, but any worthwhile effort or experience deserves to be chronicled and much is learned from what is happening in individual ports to the further benefit of the AOS worldwide.

Since maritime life takes the seafarer across the world in a matter of weeks, AOS pastoral care, while respecting the specificities of each region must at the same time be consistent and have a certain cohesive approach all over the world. Good reporting, answering to surveys and queries, and the sharing of information, help respect this international dimension of our Organisation.


Conferences and meetings

Due to the specificity of the maritime ministry, chaplains, pastoral agents and ship visitors can be isolated from each other and meetings and conferences provide a unique, and sometimes rare, occasion for them to discuss together their pastoral engagement.

At national level, one of the main duties of the National Director is to “arrange, with the consent of the Bishop Promoter… meetings and spiritual exercises for all the chaplains… for other faithful who are involved in the maritime apostolate” (SM, XI, 6). It is customary for national groupings of the AOS to meet annually for study, for exchange of experience and for mutual support. These meetings should also involve as far as possible the shore-side members of the AOS and serving seafarers. Although the port parish/local clergy may regard himself as just a part-time or honorary chaplain at best, they must  nevertheless be encouraged to make every effort to participate as well.

A World Congress of the AOS is held at intervals of every five years. The Congress is an opportunity to provide a forum for the exchange of experiences across continents, to examine AOS current and future involvement and priorities as a Church Work in a maritime world in constant evolution, and to build up a common pastoral vision. As Church “We have the responsibility of reading the signs of time and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel… we should be able to answer the ever recurring questions which men ask about the meaning of this present life and of the life to come. ….We must be able to understand the aspirations, the yearnings and the often dramatic features of the world in which we live“ (GS, 4).

In each of the nine AOS Regions (North America and Caribbean, Central and South America,  Africa Atlantic Ocean, Africa Indian Ocean, Europe, Gulf States, South Asia, East and South East Asia and Oceania), the World Congress is usually preceded by a preparatory meeting and followed by another one to help the Regions take on board and implement the conclusions and recommendations of the Congress. The regional conferences are planned and organised by the Regional Coordinator under the authority of the PCPCMIP. All the AOS Regional Coordinators meet normally once a year in Rome to review, monitor and plan current and future pastoral activities and involvement.

These conferences and meetings are fraternal and convivial occasions and those who participate benefit greatly from the experience of the others. Despite the inevitable expense, the burden can be shared in solidarity; therefore chaplains and lay members together with the seafarers are urged to make the necessary sacrifices involved in participating in these encounters.



AOS-International (PCPCMIP) has maintained for many years a worldwide Directory of Stella Maris Centres and chaplaincies. The Directory contains details of National Offices and Bishop Promoters, and a comprehensive list of names, phone, fax numbers and email addresses of AOS chaplains and pastoral teams worldwide.

Changes, new addresses and contact details are regularly notified in each issue of the “Apostolatus Maris” Bulletin. All AOS personnel must regularly check the information about their own activities and report any omissions or errors. National Directors/Regional Coordinators are requested to inform promptly the PCPCMIP of any changes/transfers, as the seafarers depend on the accuracy of this information to have access to pastoral care. The credibility of our ministry depends also on the accuracy of these entries.

This is supplemented by the ICMA Directory which furnishes a comprehensive listing and details of the pastoral services offered in all Christian centres and chaplaincies, with which we have established a tradition of cooperation and mutual assistance.



Communication is a very necessary ingredient for the fruitful pursuit of any combined effort. In a pastoral so widespread and so varied as the AOS, `communication' at all levels of the work is a necessity. A willingness to share one’s ideas and experiences can be an enrichment for all the AOS family.

Communication takes many forms, both within the family of the AOS itself and also beyond the AOS by way of promotion or information for the wider Church and the general public. It is important to develop a good and regular relationship with the media. Those who produce newsletters, reviews, information bulletins, brochures or a website covering AOS activities, are to be encouraged. Despite the costs involved, such publications should be widely circulated and positively promoted by the ordinary membership of the AOS, respecting the competence of everyone and avoiding duplications.

The PCPCMIP publishes the “Apostolatus Maris Bulletin", a quarterly produced by AOS-International, whose objectives are to reflect the happenings of the AOS around the world. Its relevance and interest depends on a regular input of news items from all the AOS regions. Articles, features and news published in this Bulletin can be reprinted freely and used for the local needs, giving credit to the source.


The AOS International Website and Extranet

The Website and Extranet exist to strengthen the AOS network by bringing together information about pastoral activity worldwide. It is the site of AOS International, which is the editor.

The website: includes reports, news stories, pastoral experiences and photographs relating to the work of AOS around the world. Through the website, AOS personnel can learn about each other. The website also enables us to present our work to seafarers, the wider Church, partner organisations and other interested parties. Contributions are welcome.

The website includes the AOS-International directory. It is requested that all AOS personnel ensure that their own details are correct and up to date.

The extranet: is the administrative area of the website accessible only to AOS personnel. To access the extranet, a username and password is required. The extranet includes the following facilities:

  • document exchange;

  • calendar of events with booking facilities;

  • interactive form for updating details in international directory;

  • interactive form for uploading SWOT reports;

  • discussion forum.



The question is frequently asked, who funds the maritime apostolate? In the smaller ports usually the little outlay involved is provided for in the overall parish pastoral budget or by the volunteers. In larger ports however, and particularly with regard to capital expenditure for premises or vehicles, special arrangements have to be made.

Fundraising is consequently an important part of the work and responsibility of the local and national AOS Committees, and in this field a responsible and competent “Board of Directors” is crucial. Successful fundraising needs competence and revolves around good leadership and transparency; it requires good communication skills and knowledge of the people liable to help. Financial accounts must always be well kept and regularly audited. The chaplaincy team and the donors must be regularly informed on how the money has been spent and they must always be shown proper appreciation and gratitude.

It is also important to “establish and maintain regular contact with institutions and aid organisations - both Catholic and non-Catholic - and with non-governmental organisations (NGOs)” (SM, XI, 8) which pursue similar goals as AOS. The International Transport Workers Federation Seafarers’ Trust (ITF-ST), has funds made up to a great extent by the seafarers' own welfare contributions. The ITF maintains a presence in the larger ports and application for funding must be endorsed by the local ITF affiliate and approved by the AOS National Director. Nowadays allocation of grants to “priority regions”, where local resources are very limited, often passes through Seafarers’ Welfare Development programmes sponsored by ICSW and ITF-ST which “are good forces and sources of Hope for many, and a benefit to the Region as it has the potential to significantly improve the quality of welfare services to seafarers” (XXII AOS World Congress, Final Document, Conclusions, Conditions in the Maritime Community). In a number of countries there are national and local Port Welfare Committees which do have funds at their disposal for the welfare of the seafaring communities.

There have been many calls in the recent AOS World Congresses for more international solidarity for the sharing of resources and know-how among AOS worldwide, as there are parts of the world where facilities are sorely needed but resources practically inexistent. There are usually a number of scholarships available for attending training courses and conferences. Twinning of centres is also a solution worth considering. “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would… divide them among all according to each one's need” (Acts 2:24).

Experience shows that a well-run centre with a good proportion of voluntary helpers can be financially viable. Harmonious relations and joint ventures or cooperation with other denominations involved in the maritime ministry can be of great help to ensure the viability of a Seafarers’ Centre by sharing “limited available resources, but above all to give witness to this unity, even if it is not yet a full one, which has been wished  among his disciples by Christ himself” (XXII AOS World Congress, Final Document, Recommendations, Ecumenical Relations).


Correspondence and records

It is essential that the correspondence, documentation and records of the AOS in any port be properly filed and maintained. Chaplains, priests in port parishes, or responsible AOS pastoral agents, should formally hand over these records to newly appointed parish priests, chaplains or pastoral agents. Also authentic copies and data that must be recorded in the parish registers must be forwarded diligently. This ensures the promotion of continuity and stability in the maritime apostolate at port and parish level. 


Part VI




Ecumenical co-operation in the maritime ministry

The pastoral ministry to maritime people in today's world is increasingly carried out in an ecumenical setting. This reflects a greater openness between the Churches and Ecclesial Communities worldwide, an undoubted fruit of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council. The urgency of ecumenism is clearly apparent in its basic document, the Decree on Ecumenism, “Unitatis Redintegratio” (1964), which states: “Division [among Christians] openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature”[17]. Then the Council document goes on to positively encourage co-operation among Christians: “Since co-operation in social matters is so widespread today, all men without exception are called to work together; with much greater reason is this true of all who believe in God, but most of all, it is especially true of Christians, since they bear the seal of Christ's name. Cooperation among Christians vividly expresses that bond which already unites them, and it sets in clearer relief the features of Christ the servant. Such cooperation, which has already begun in many countries, should be developed more and more, particularly in regions where social and technological evolution is taking place. It should contribute to the just appreciation of the dignity of the human person, to the promotion of the blessings of peace, the application of the Gospel principles to social life and the advancement of the arts and sciences in a truly Christian spirit. It should use every possible means to relieve the afflictions of our times, such as famine and natural disasters, illiteracy and poverty, lack of housing and unequal distribution of wealth. Through such cooperation, all believers in Christ are able to learn easily how they can understand each other more, and how the road to the unity of Christians can be made more smooth" (ibid., 12).

Pope Benedict XVI, in his Encyclical Letter “Deus Caritas Est”, clearly reaffirms the readiness of the Catholic Church to cooperate with the charitable agencies of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, since we all have the same fundamental motivation and look towards the same goal: a true humanism, which acknowledges that man is made in the image of God and wants to help him to live in a way consonant with that dignity (cf. DCE, 30).

It can be safely claimed that today there are few if any parallels in ecumenical co-operation to compare with the extent and range of ecumenical co-operation in Christian ministry towards and on behalf of seafarers. Since ICMA was founded in 1969, with the AOS as one of its founding members, we have seen the bonding together in a free association of the main Christian Maritime Welfare Agencies; this was made possible thanks to an active cooperation and mutual respect. Since then, ecumenical cooperation has become almost the norm rather that the exception in the maritime world.


Some guiding principles of ecumenism

The guiding principles of ecumenism are to be found in the Second Vatican Council decree ”Unitatis Redintegratio”, which are applied in the “Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism”[18] and further developed by Pope John Paul II Encyclical Letter “Ut Unum Sint”[19]. These teachings and documents are meant to motivate, enlighten and guide those who are directly engaged in the ecumenical field in the Catholic Church.  In addition some practical interdenominational pastoral guidelines can be found in Annex IV.

It is not possible to present here the multiplicity of initiatives and activities which have been made possible thanks to the progress of the ecumenical movement, while respecting the above mentioned guidelines. These reflections proposed at the XII International Seminar for Catholic Civil Aviation Chaplains and Chaplaincy Members (19-24 April 2005), can however help us better comprehend the nature and practice of ecumenism in our apostolate: “Normally a distinction is made between the dialogue of love, namely the dialogue of life and collaboration in social, political and charity fields and the dialogue of truth, namely an exchange on what we have in common in our faith, what elements of it divide us and on the differences in our faith. The theological dialogue is the head; the spiritual dialogue is the heart; and ecumenical collaboration represents the hands of ecumenism. Therefore it is a mistake to concentrate everything on the problem of Eucharistic communion, which for the Catholic Church is linked to ecclesial communion. The rules may be found in the Decree on Ecumenism (UR 8), the Ecumenical Directory (nos. 122-136), and in the Encyclical Letter “Ecclesia de Eucharistia” (nos. 44-46)”[20].

In any case, a basic principle of ecumenism is reciprocal respect. As it is made clear by the Directory on the Ecumenism: “Catholics ought to show a sincere respect for the liturgical and sacramental discipline of other Churches and ecclesial communities and these…are asked to show the same respect for Catholic discipline”[21].

In conclusion, it can be said that until we have achieved the final goal of the ecumenical movement – full and visible unity of the Church – there will be tensions, conflicts and even misunderstandings in relations among Churches and Ecclesial Communities. It seems expedient for practical reasons that in the event of misapprehension, a clash of views or professional interests, that there should be an appropriate procedure in place designed to deal with the matter sympathetically and expeditiously in the context of ICMA, with the approval of the local Ordinary, taking into consideration the existing discipline in the Catholic Church.


Inter-religious dialogue

As already mentioned, religious pluralism in ports and aboard ships is a fact and a sign of our times. There are many occasions of collaboration and generally relations are good between seafarers of different religions, making possible “a dialogue of life” between colleagues and the raising, in a simple and basic way, of the more profound questions of the meaning of life, God and our destiny. Dialogue and the sharing of a similar commitment to build a society of ever greater justice and peace, deepen the mutual understanding and esteem between peoples and cultures.

The Church’s doctrine encourages Christians to engage in inter-religious dialogue: “The Church … exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men”[22]. Also “we cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God” (ibid., 5). More recently, in an address to Muslim leaders, Benedict XVI has underlined the fact that “inter-religious and intercultural dialogue is a necessity for building together this world of peace and fraternity ardently desired by all people of good will”[23].

Therefore all Catholic Organisations are encouraged to enter with prudence and charity into dialogue and collaboration with members of other religions (cf. NA, 2). Again, in the words of His Holiness Benedict XVI, “the Catholic Church realizes with increasing awareness that inter-religious dialogue is part of her commitment to the service of humanity in the contemporary world. This conviction has become, as one says, "daily bread" especially fit for those who work in contact with migrants, refugees and with different categories of itinerant people”[24]. For the Holy Father "inter-religious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is, in fact, a vital necessity”[25].

To conclude, the Church has a high regard for other religions and the statement of Pope John Paul II in his 1991 Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio about inter-religious encounter, urges each faithful (and all Christian communities) to practice inter-religious dialogue, “although not always to the same degree or in the same way”. "For most,”- the Pope continues- “this will be through what is called the dialogue of life, through which believers of different religions bear witness before each other in daily life to their own human and spiritual values, and help each other to live according to those values in order to build a more just and fraternal society”[26].

While ecumenism aims at visible unity and full communion, inter-religious dialogue, by dispelling misunderstandings and prejudices, intends to achieve with non-Christian religions, mutual understanding and respect. It prepares the way to collaboration and to the promotion together of peace, liberty, social justice and moral values. It may also happen that the chaplain/pastoral agent be called upon to minister to people of other religions, for instance for help to make contact with their coreligionists or to facilitate their access to those who can cater to their specific religious needs; concerned by their spiritual and human welfare, we have a duty to help them insofar as possible.

In relations between Christians and other religious people, the principle of reciprocity is important. It is not to be understood as “an attitude for making claims” but rather as a relationship based “on mutual respect and on justice in juridical and religious matters”. Reciprocity is also an “attitude of heart and spirit that enables us to live together everywhere with equal rights and duties” (EMCC, 64).

In this context also the importance of religious formation for Christians, cannot be overlooked, as only solid formation and information on other religions can help overcome prejudices, religious relativism, suspicions and fears that “hamper dialogue and erect barriers, even provoking violence and misunderstanding” (Ibid., 69).


Part VII




Fishers and fishing communities

Fishers, their families and communities, have traditionally been an important part of AOS pastoral care and ministry. As recommended by the XXI AOS World Congress in Rio, an “AOS International Fishing Committee” (see Appendix VI) has been set up to promote fishermen’s welfare and dignity and a better coordination of its pastoral care in supporting and strengthening fishermen’s communities and organizations.

Most of what has been or will be said concerning pastoral care, etc., can be applied to fishers on board international fishing vessels. There are also however matters which deserved to be considered and addressed specifically in ministering to fishers and ministering to them is a challenge because the needs and the situations of fishers and theirs families are very different.

Fishing is in fact one of the oldest and arduous human activity and it is generally poorly paid or rewarded. The forms of fishing are as many and varied almost as the kind of fish that they catch. Like all seafarers, fishers most of the time are sailing and spend very little time with their families and, on account of their way of life, they are often marginalized and deprived of the ordinary pastoral ministry.  

Like all seafarers, fishers are welcome to our Centres and services. The fishers, too, need the friendship and welcome of the chaplains and local community, a clean and decent place to relax and communicate with their family, a quiet corner to write a letter or send a postcard, a room to pray or a chapel to listen to the Word of God and receive the Sacraments. Let our Centres be really the safe haven where they can rest, unload their burden and regain spiritual strength for another voyage. However, one should be aware that in certain ports, there are tensions between fishers and merchant seafarers and this could affect the harmonious atmosphere of the Centre.

More often than not, fishers need legal/social assistance to claim their salaries, benefits, etc. from the fishing companies and agents. This can be particularly complicated, as many fishers on international fishing vessels, which often fly flags of convenience, are undocumented, having been illegally recruited. Local groups of professional people (lawyers, doctors, etc.) willing to offer their services for free to the fishers should be formed and linked together.

Cooperation and networking are crucial to this ministry, as fishers roam the oceans in pursuit of fish. It is therefore necessary to establish/enlarge the network among the different ICMA members dealing with fishers. Immediate exchange of information and assistance will benefit the fishers and their families during arrests, detention or abandonment of vessels.

Many fishers only speak their own native language. Multilingual and approved religious and educational materials (pamphlets, leaflets and videos) should be prepared for fishers explaining their rights, the dangers of their profession and where to go for help or assistance. Production of educational materials and counselling to reduce the exposure of fishers to the danger of drugs and alcohol abuse, AIDS and other health hazards, are also very important, with due consideration to the Magisterium of the Church.

The families of fishers are deeply affected by their way of life: children are growing up without the presence of the father during the formative years; the wife has to assume all the parental responsibilities; the frequent occasions of infidelity on both sides put stress on the married life and create tensions in the relationship, that sometimes end up in separation or divorce. All this necessitates particular attention and moral and spiritual support: consequently, Fishers Wives Association, like Seamen’s Wives Association, should be established whenever possible.

From the religious point of view many of these fishers lack religious education. On a fishing vessel everyday is a normal working day, and because of this they lose frequently the sense of time and become unaware of Christian feast days, especially of Sunday as the day of the Lord. For the fisher, nature (the sea, the sky, the wind and the fish, etc.) is not something beautiful or romantic, but more a force to reckon with and to fight against.

The small-scale, traditional fishermen in developing countries are, in general, the poorest of the poor; in certain areas the fishing profession is considered as the only fit work for those who cannot read or write. In addition they have no social or professional status, as fishing is not considered real, gainful employment. Thus their traditional fishing grounds are being threatened by multinational fishing ventures and by hotel projects. They are rarely, if ever, consulted concerning policies, regulations or decisions that will affect their conditions of life and livelihood: being voiceless, they often rely on Church Organisations and friendly NGOs to make their voice heard.



Aquaculture production is a very ancient practice found in many societies, under different forms in many parts of the world. It is the cultivation of the natural “produce” of water (such as fish or shellfish, algae and other aquatic organisms). The current expansion in aquaculture started in the 1960s, as the demand for fish began to climb and fish capture was reaching its peak. Today, commercial aquaculture is a huge, international industry, containing both good and bad practices. Evidence of the negative impact on the environment of “bad practices” especially on wild stocks,  has caused it to be a major cause of controversy in many countries. Workers in this sector, who in emerging economies are often migrant workers, face many problems related to health, safety and working conditions.

AOS, whenever possible, should help awaken the awareness of local parishes to these issues and help provide the necessary pastoral support to the workers. Through campaigning, fishing Nations involved in aquaculture production should be prompted to act in a responsible manner in line with the best practices in this industry, keeping in mind the dignity of the workers and their health.


The port workers

The port environment is changing, new terminals are being built far from the city centres and with the new security rules, access to port facilities have been greatly restricted. The “container revolution” and subsequently the introduction of new work procedures, requiring new expertise, have considerably reduced the size of the workforce in the port; it is not unusual to find a large container terminal being operated by no more than twenty people per shift. Ports were traditionally a labour intensive industry, but the trend now is to rely increasingly on new technology and automation. The types of employment/trades have also evolved, for example dockers today are specialised workers needing mechanical and computer skills. In a context of liberalisation and deregulation, ports compete against each other to attract more trade and benefits.  Many port employees are casual workers and have no social benefits or protection. While the harbour and the waterfront were once the heart and hub of a “port city”, today one could say that they have been pushed to the margins of the city. For the port workers, this is compounded by the fact that they work at all hours and are often on duty while other workers are at home.

It is part of the work of the AOS to support all port personnel, whether they work in security, administration, management, distribution, shipping, logistics or cargo handling. A Stella Maris Centre must necessarily be opened to all port workers, it should be the “heart of the port”. Of course port workers do not need AOS in the same way seafarers do, and the Seafarers’ Centre cannot substitute for their parish, but it can be a point of reference and a resource centre to all. Many port workers are former seafarers and are ready to help and become volunteers. Let us also remember that they are the first to meet the arriving seafarer. The chaplain and his team should be readily available to them at all time, but especially in time of crisis, catastrophe or accidents. Religious feast days and end of the year celebrations are  good occasions for mutual invitations and getting acquainted with each other, as are opening of new offices, blessing of ships or new machinery. By being well integrated in the social and professional fabric of the port, AOS will foster the “human and spiritual side of the port”, will be accepted by one and all and in return will be able to count on the cooperation of the greater number. One of AOS’s gifts to those in the port is to bring its contribution to the building and fostering of a sense of community, which may be lacking.


Cruise ships

As previously mentioned, the Cruise Ship Industry is fast developing and constitutes a huge challenge to our apostolate. The sector has been growing steadily and it has more than 150,000 employees, of whom about 120,000 are at sea at any given time. It is estimated that each year there are more than 12 million passengers travelling on Cruise ships. Today we are witnessing also the introduction of huge ships with a capacity of more than 3,500 passengers and 1,500 crew, with a large proportion of women.

Cruise ship crews and staff have the same needs for ministry as mariners from bulkers, container ships, and tankers, but the conditions of the ministry to them are different. This is why a Cruise ship chaplain, which is the most appropriate solution of this specific pastoral care, cannot embark without special preparation and training. It is of the utmost importance that he should know the environment in which he is called to exercise his pastoral responsibilities. His pastoral efforts must therefore take into consideration the specificities of this industry.

A cruise ship is made of three distinct “communities”, consisting of the crew, the hospitality personnel and the passengers. A chaplain is thus sent to the crew, to the hospitality staff and to the passengers and he is equally committed to serve all three groups while being aware that each category has different needs and expectations.

Most of the hospitality staff working in restaurants, bars, cabins and loading areas come from poorer countries. Women are mainly in non-technical services such as hotel work and catering. The crews are very mixed: they come from different ethnic origins and their social, religious and cultural backgrounds are diverse. This can add considerable stress to normal “community living”. Employees commonly work 10 to 13 hours a day, seven days a week. On certain ships, basic remuneration is low, and they depend on tips.

Fatigue is a recurrent problem for all. The workers  have contracts that run as long as 12 months. Most work 10 months, followed by a two-month vacation. Again, this means long separations from family and friends, with sometime serious consequences on family and social life.

The majority of crew are young people, especially young women, and sexual harassment is a frequent problem. Many instances go unreported, as the victims are afraid to put their jobs in jeopardy. 

The growth of the industry is underpinned by its international character, and AOS recognises the necessity to inform its own international network of port chaplains and ship visitors of these new challenges and to ensure that they are prepared to meet the needs of seafarers and passengers in this ever expanding sector. Chaplains on board cruise ships are either full time, part time or present for major feasts. Some national AOS have begun maintaining a database of suitable priests, recommending them to cruise lines who make the request for “seasonal chaplains”.

The onboard ministry will vary according to the particular type of time appointment. A full time chaplain will work, of course, in a more systematic and long-term manner than a part time or seasonal chaplain. Nevertheless all chaplains have a core identity for their ministry to the seafarer: the proclamation of the Word of God; the celebration of the Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation; renewal of Marriage vows (passengers); preparation for Marriage (crew); pastoral counselling; support of Onboard Lay Leadership. Another important aspect of their mission is a service of presence to passengers and crew, being available to people especially in recreation and public areas.

Also the concept of a team of chaplains supporting a specific ship, each individual Chaplain serving for a designated period is gaining ground, as this team chaplaincy approach allows crewmembers and chaplains to become well known to each other over time and thus the potential for improved pastoral care and continuity. Contacts and mutual support between seagoing chaplains and shore based chaplaincy teams/port parishes are important. 


The yachting community

A growing category of professionals of the sea and navigators, who are also part of the seafaring world, are these sailors, engineers and other employees who work on sailing or motor vessels, yachts, leisure or competition boats. This sector is in fast expansion and the number of professional skippers and crew working on these boats is always increasing. The personnel onboard are employed in the deck, engine and catering departments. Very often the work is seasonal and poorly paid; often in the ports jobless crew are to be found, with little or no resources, looking for work.

Another characteristic of this sector is the growing popularity and numbers of international sailing competitions. There are hundreds, if not thousands for the bigger international races, who attend these events; they are skippers and crew members, their families, the support and logistic groups and the accredited journalists. The better known competitions are the Vuitton and America’s Cup, the transatlantic and round the world races, but there are many other competitions which are organised all the year round at local, national and international levels. Many of the salaried personnel remain 3 to 6 months abroad and away from home.

There are more and more marinas or recreational ports being built around the world; they cater all the year round to the yachting and sailing community. Sometime a special zone of the commercial port is reserved for them or they share the same port with fishing vessels. Crews finding themselves ashore at the end of voyages, may need accommodation, medical care, transportation, a new berth for another passage, or just the normal requirements of a seafarer in a strange port.

The number of professional sailors in yachting and regattas are very substantial and deserves also our pastoral attention. On the other hand the AOS and Stella Maris Centres are little known to them. But every concrete initiative (masses in various foreign languages, ecumenical celebrations, information leaflets, etc.) to provide for their material, spiritual and religious needs are generally well received and appreciated.

Local parishes and AOS teams, where such competitions and activities take place, should be attentive to them and must not hesitate, after being introduced and going through the necessary preliminary contacts, to make their presence and their services available and take adapted pastoral initiatives. The blessing of vessels in any case is a popular and welcome ritual and constitutes a good “introduction” to this ministry.


Lakes and rivers

In less developed countries, there are large populations around lakes and on river banks eking out a meagre living from fishing. For some it is a way of life, which has been transmitted for generations, while for others they have been forced into it because of war, poverty or simply because they could not find any other gainful occupation.

In many countries as well, on the rivers that constitute the main lines of communication, there is a considerable traffic of river boats/barges carrying passengers and goods all year round. Many of the people, especially those working on the boats, are cut off for long periods from their roots and in need of pastoral support, as they are constantly exposed to the influence of religious sects or could become prey to criminal elements.

These communities, whether they are there by choice or necessity, remain at the margins of society, and the little contacts they have with the outside world are often marred by suspicion, exploitation or discrimination. They have little social structures, health care and social security and practically no schooling for children. They fall nominally under the responsibility of parishes, but many of them are difficult of access and therefore they cannot receive the normal spiritual care provided by the parishes.

This is why AOS in these areas, but also in developed countries where this mode of transportation and way of life is better organised and more structured,  is encouraged to initiate or support, in cooperation with parishes, every pastoral initiative in favour of these communities, by reaching out to them or by setting up pastoral structures at river ports or traffic centres (cf. SM, VII, 1).


Preservation of the environment

In the modern world, we cannot not mention this problem, as the Apostleship of the Sea is very much concerned by the preservation of the maritime environment, and supports every efforts in order to protect and preserve it before it is too late, and irreversible damage is done. People of the Sea suffer when oceans, beaches and coastal regions are polluted with the greater burden of suffering falling especially on the poor. AOS recognises that living in a safe and clean environment is fundamental to the dignity of the person, bearing in mind the words of Pope Benedict XVI that “environmental degradation makes the lives of the poor especially unbearable." (Angelus, August 27, 2006).  For the Church, care for all God’s creation is also a moral issue and respect of the environment presupposes the conviction that we are all stewards of God’s creation and necessitates a personal, collective and international commitment. 

In its Final Document the XXII AOS World Congress has stressed the AOS Bishop Promoters prophetic role in proclaiming concern for the entire maritime environment (cfr. Final Document, Conclusions, Development of AOS). AOS consequently supports the use of international agreements which aim to protect the ecosystem, the environment and the lives and livelihoods of the People of the Sea. Confronted with the concern that over-rigorous application of environmental laws can result in unjust treatment of seafarers and fishers, the Final Document of the Congress recommends that “the existing tension between ecological concerns and the needs of fishers for work must be solved reasonably. AOS International (Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People) can help by supporting balanced policies on sustainable fishing that takes due account of both environmental and  human factors” (ibid., Recommendations, Fishers).






Patrons - Prayers - Logo

Stella Maris (“Star of the Sea”) has long been the favourite title by which people of the sea have called on her, in whose protection they have always trusted: the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Her son, Jesus Christ, accompanied his disciples in their vessels, helped them in their work and calmed the storms. And so the Church accompanies seafarers, caring for the special spiritual needs of those who for various reasons live and work in the maritime world” (SM, Introduction).

Our Blessed Lady, under the title, “Mary Star of the Sea” is acknowledged as the universal and principal AOS Patron. Stella Maris is the name by which many seafarers know the Apostleship of the Sea. Just as seafarers have traditionally depended on the stars for navigation, so they trust in the protection and guidance of Our Lady so as not to lose their course. This is the reason why the AOS Seafarers’ clubs and centres around the world are named Stella Maris, in honour of our patron. They are the beacons and safe havens, always ready to welcome, protect and guide the weary seafarer, fisherman, cruise personnel and traveller.

 The texts of the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary Stella Maris and those of the Liturgy of the Day referring to the feast, have been approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (see Appendix II). The votive Mass of Our Lady Star of the Sea may be celebrated on Saturday, or on any other day that is not a Sunday or solemnity, and more appropriately on the Stella Maris feast day itself.

Apart from the fact that Our Lady is invoked under other titles by traditional fishing communities, there are many other patrons who are widely invoked, e.g. St. Peter and St. Andrew, fishermen that they were. Also St. Nicolas, St. Erasmus (Elmo) and St. Brendan the Navigator, St. Francesco da Paola, St. Francis Xavier, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Peter Claver, to name but a few.

The following “Daily Prayer” format of the AOS has been used, at least in the English-speaking world, for many years:

Sacred Heart of Jesus: Have mercy upon all seafarers.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ...

Glory be to the Father...

Mary, Star of the Sea: Pray for us.

St. Peter: Pray for us.

St. Andrew: Pray for us.

(With addition of invocations to local Patrons)

We can also remember the beautiful exhortation of St. Bernard of Clairvaux who compares Mary to the Star that navigators seek so as not to lose their course: “Whoever you are who perceive yourself during this mortal existence to be drifting in treacherous waters at the mercy of the winds and the waves rather than walking on firm ground, turn your eyes not away from the splendour of this guiding star, unless you wish to be submerged by the storm!... Look at the star, call upon Mary.... With her for a guide, you will never go astray; ...under her protection, you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you will not grow weary; if she shows you favour you will reach the goal“[27].

Many prayer books for seafarers already exist in many languages (their AOS country of origin must be clearly indicated). Seafarers greatly appreciate Scriptural texts, extracts and prayers for various circumstances of life and devotional books in their own language. Prayer books, images and other devotional material, which have proved popular and useful in one region may be publicized and shared with others. These should always indicate the country of origin. Ideally, each Catholic seafarer should have with him a Prayer book and a copy of the Bible.

The port chaplain is often called upon to bless ships and fishing vessels on the occasion of launching. The blessing of the local fishing fleet and fishing grounds are also popular events. The rituals of many of these ceremonies are to be found in the Book of Blessings.

The Logo or official Emblem of the AOS is a copyright. It therefore may not be altered or combined with another emblem. Peter F. Anson, one of the AOS founders, is credited with designing it. The logo denotes the three beacons guiding and welcoming seafarers to a safe haven, now and for eternity. The rays of light reach out and touch the life preserver (faith), while emanating from a warm heart (charity) and holding to the anchor (hope) of stability. National AOS must be careful, whenever they are using the logo, to clearly indicate the name of their country, in order to avoid any confusion with AOS International, a Sector of the PCPCMIP in Rome.


Appendix I


Stella Maris


Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio on the Maritime Apostolate

Stella Maris (“Star of the Sea”) has long been the favourite title by which people of the sea have called on her in whose protection they have always trusted: the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Her son, Jesus Christ, accompanied his disciples in their vessels (1), helped them in their work and calmed the storms (2). And so the Church accompanies seafarers, caring for the special spiritual needs of those who for various reasons live and work in the maritime world.

In order to meet the requirements of special pastoral assistance for people involved in commercial shipping and  in fishing - as well as their families, port personnel and all who travel by sea - we establish what follows, updating the norms issued earlier in this century and having heard the opinion of our Brother, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and of Itinerant People.


Section 1


The Work of the Maritime Apostolate

Article I.

Although it does not constitute an autonomous canonical entity with its own juridical personality, the Work of the Maritime Apostolate is the organisation concerned with the specific pastoral care of the people of the sea; it seeks to support the work of the faithful who are called to witness to their Christian life in this sphere.


Section 2


People of the Sea

Article II.

§ 1. In this document, the terms used are defined as follows:

            a) Seafarers are those actually on board merchant ships or fishing vessels, and all who for whatever reason have undertaken a voyage by ship;

            b) Maritime personnel include 1. seafarers; 2. those whose work normally involves being on board a ship; 3. those who work on oil rigs and platforms; 4. pensioners retired from the aforesaid jobs; 5. students of nautical institutes; 6. port workers;  

            c) People of the Sea includes 1. seafarers and maritime personnel; 2. the spouses and children who are still minors of seafarers and maritime people as well as  those who share a home with them even if they are not actually seafarers (e.g. pensioners); 3. those who work regularly in the Maritime Apostolate.

§ 2.The chaplains and the authorities of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate will strive to see that the people of the sea are provided abundantly with whatever is required to lead holy lives; they will also recognise and promote the mission which all the faithful - and in particular the laity - are called to exercise in the Church and in the maritime world in accordance with their specific state.


Article III.

Mindful of the special circumstances of the people of the sea and taking into account the privileges which over the years the Apostolic See has granted this people, the following is established:

1. maritime personnel can fulfill their Easter Duty regarding Holy Communion at any time during the year, having first received appropriate instruction or catechesis;

2. seafarers are not bound by the laws of fast and abstinence prescribed in can. 1251; they are advised, however, when taking advantage of this dispensation, to undertake a comparable work of piety in place of abstinence, and, as far as possible, to observe both laws on Good Friday in memory of the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ.

3. seafarers, who have properly confessed and received Communion and who visit with religious piety a legitimately erected oratory on board and recite there the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff, can gain a plenary indulgence on the titular feast of the oratory and also on 2 August;

4. these same faithful, under the same conditions, can gain one plenary indulgence, applicable only to the departed, if they visit with religious piety the aforementioned oratory on 2 November and recite there the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff;

5. the indulgences mentioned in Nn. 3 and 4 can be gained, under the same conditions, by people of the sea in chapels or oratories of places where the Maritime Apostolate is active. On vessels which have no oratory, seafarers can gain these indulgences by reciting the prescribed prayers before a sacred image.


Section 3


The Chaplain of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate

Article IV.

§ 1. The chaplain of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate is the priest appointed in conformity with art. XII, § 2, 2); the authority who appoints him also confers on him the office described in can. 564 of the Code of Canon Law, to attend to the pastoral care of the people of the sea.  As far as possible, appointments to this ministry should be characterised by stability.

§ 2. The chaplain of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate should be distinguished by integrity of life, zeal, prudence and a knowledge of the maritime world. He should be good at languages and enjoy good health.  

§ 3. In order that the chaplain of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate be fitted to carry out all aspects of this particular ministry, he should be properly instructed and carefully prepared before being entrusted with this special pastoral work.

§ 4. The chaplain of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate must identify, among local and transient maritime personnel, those who display leadership qualities and help them to deepen their Christian faith, their commitment to Christ and their aptitude for creating and guiding a Christian community on board.

§ 5. The chaplain of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate must identify among maritime personnel those who have a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and train them so that they can be appointed, by the competent authority, as extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist and be able to exercise this ministry with dignity, especially on board ships.

§ 6. The chaplain of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate should provide pastoral assistance in Stella Maris centres and in other hospitality centres for maritime personnel.


Article V.

§ 1. The chaplain of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate, by virtue of his office, can perform for the people of the sea all acts pertaining to the care of souls, with the exception of matrimonial matters.

§ 2. The faculties of the chaplain of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate are cumulative with those of the parish priest of the territory in which they are actually exercised. For this reason, the chaplain must carry out his pastoral ministry in fraternal understanding with the parish priest of the territory and consult with him.

§ 3. The chaplain of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate must take care to keep a register of those baptised, confirmed and deceased. At the end of the year he must send a report of what has been done to the National Director, described in art. IX, § 2, together with an authentic copy of the registers, unless the acts were recorded in the registers of the port parish.


Article VI.

All the chaplains of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate, by virtue of their office, have the following special faculties:

a) to celebrate Mass twice on weekdays, if there is a just cause, and three times on Sundays and Feast Days, whenever genuine pastoral necessity requires this;

b) to celebrate Mass habitually outside a place of worship, if there is a just cause, observing the prescriptions of can. 932 of the Code of Canon Law;

c) to celebrate a second Mass in the evening of Holy Thursday, the Memorial of the Lord’s Supper, in churches and oratories, if this is required for pastoral reasons; and also in the morning in a case of genuine necessity and only for the faithful who cannot attend an evening Mass.


Article VII.

§ 1. The chaplain of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate who is appointed by the competent authority to exercise his ministry on board a ship during a voyage is obliged to offer spiritual assistance to all who are making the voyage, whether by sea, lake or river, from the start of the trip until its conclusion. § 2. Can. 566 of the Code of Canon Law remaining in force, the chaplain mentioned in the preceding paragraph has the special faculty of administering the sacrament of Confirmation to any of the faithful during the voyage, as long as there is no Bishop on board who is in proper communion with the Apostolic See and all the canonical prescriptions have been fully observed. 

§ 3. In order to assist validly and licitly at a marriage during the voyage, the chaplain of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate must be delegated by the Ordinary or by the parish priest of the place where one or other of the contracting parties has a domicile or quasi-domicile or has been staying for a least one month, or, if they are transients, by the parish priest of the port parish where they boarded the ship. The chaplain is obliged to report the details of the celebration to the one who delegated him, for recording in the marriage register.


Article VIII.

§ 1. The same authority competent to appoint chaplains can appoint a deacon, a lay faithful or a religious to be a Co-Worker of the chaplain of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate. This Co-Worker assists the chaplain and, in accordance with the law, subsitutes for the chaplain in matters which do not require the ministerial priesthood.

§ 2. Those so appointed to be Co-Workers in the Work of the Maritime Apostolate must be distinguished by integrity of life, prudence and a knowledge of the faith. They should be suitably instructed and carefully trained before this task is entrusted to them.


Section 4


The Direction of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate

Article IX.

§ 1. In each Episcopal Conference with maritime territory there should be a Bishop Promoter whose responsibility it is to foster the Work of the Maritime Apostolate. The Episcopal Conference itself will appoint the Bishop-Promoter, preferably from among the bishops of dioceses with ports, indicating the term of his appointment and communicating the details of the appointment to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

§ 2. The Bishop-Promoter will choose a suitable priest and present his name to the Episcopal Conference which will then appoint him, in writing and for a determined period of time, as National Director of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate, with the duties prescribed in art. XI. The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People is to be informed of his name and the duration of his appointment. The National Director may be assisted by a pastoral worker.


Article X.

The tasks of the Bishop Promoter are:

1) to give directives to the National Director, to keep in touch attentively with his activities and to give suggestions and advice, as appropriate, so that he can properly carry out the duties confided to him;

2) to request at the appointed times and whenever it seems appropriate, a Report on pastoral activities for maritime personnel and the work done by the National Director;

3) to transmit the Report, mentioned in no. 2, to the Episcopal Conference, together with his own comments; and to encourage interest in this Apostolate among his fellow bishops;

4) to maintain contact with the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People regarding all that concerns the Maritime Apostolate, and to transmit to the National Director communications he has received;            

5) to present to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and People on the Move an annual Report on the situation of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate in his territory.


Article XI.

The principal duties of the National Director are:

1) to maintain  relations with the bishops of the country in all matters affecting the spiritual good of maritime people;

2)  to present to the Bishop Promoter, at least once a year, a Report on the “status animarum” and on pastoral work for the maritime people of his country: in this report he is to explain both the activities which went well and those which were, perhaps, less successful, as well as any corrective action taken to avoid losses and, finally, whatever seems useful for the spread of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate;

3) to promote specific training programmes for chaplains;

4) to direct chaplains of the Work of Maritime Apostolate without prejudice to the rights of the local Ordinary;

5) to make sure that chaplains diligently fulfill their duties and observe the prescriptions of the Holy See and the local Ordinary;

6) to arrange, with the consent of the Bishop Promoter and according to the circumstances of the time, meetings and spiritual exercises for all the chaplains in the country or for chaplains and other faithful who are involved in the Work of the Maritime Apostolate;

7) to be particularly concerned to encourage and develop the Apostolate of the laity, fostering their active participation while bearing in mind the diversity of their talents;

8) to establish and maintain regular contact with institutions and aid organisations - both Catholic and non-Catholic - and with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which pursue goals akin to those of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate;               

9) to make frequent visits to places where the Work of the Maritime Apostolate is active;

10) to send authentic copies, prepared by himself or by the chaplains, of Baptism, Confirmation and Death Registers to the appropriate diocesan offices;

11)  to inform, as soon as possible, the parish priest where parties concerned have domicile, of the data that must be recorded in the parish registers;

12)  to establish relations with the Work of the Maritime Apostolate in neighbouring countries, and to represent his own country at regional or continental level;

13) to maintain regular contact with the Regional Coordinator mentioned in art. XIII, § 1, 6).


Article XII.

§ 1. It is the right and duty of the Bishop of a diocese to show zealous concern for and to offer pastoral assistance to all maritime personnel who reside, even for a short time, within his jurisdiction.

§ 2.  The Bishop of a diocese is responsible for:

1) determining the most suitable forms of pastoral care for maritime personnel;

2) appointing, in agreement with the National Director, chaplains for the Maritime Apostolate in his diocese, and granting them the necessary mandate;

3) granting permission for the erection of an oratory on a ship listed in the public registry of a port located within the territory of his jurisdiction.


Article XIII.

§ 1. The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, which is responsible for the overall direction of the Work of the Maritime Apostolate, has these principal duties:

1) to publish instructions, in accordance with can. 34 of the Code of Canon Law, and to give guidelines and exhortations concerning pastoral ministry among the people of the sea;

2) to ensure prudently that this ministry is carried out in accordance with the law and in a dignified and fruitful manner;

3) to exercise, with respect to other associations encompassed within the Work of the Maritime Apostolate, those functions proper to the Holy See regarding associations;

4) to offer assistance from the Pontifical Council to all who are involved in this apostolic work by encouraging and supporting them, and also by seeing to the correction of possible abuses;

5) to promote an ecumenical spirit in the maritime world, at the same time seeing that this is done in faithful harmony with the teaching and discipline of the Church;

6) to appoint a Coordinator for a region encompassing several Episcopal Conferences, at the suggestion of the Bishop promoters concerned, and to specify the functions of such a Coordinator.

§ 2.  So that the pastoral care of people of the sea may be better and more effectively organised, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People should encourage and foster cooperation and reciprocal coordination of projects among Episcopal Conferences and local Ordinaries. This same Council will establish relations with institutes of consecrated life and with associations and organisations that can cooperate at the international level with the Work of the Maritime Apostolate.

We order all these things to have lasting effect, all things to the contrary notwithstanding.

Given in Rome at St Peter’s on the thirty-first day of January, nineteen hundred and ninety-seven, the nineteenth year of our Pontificate.                  


Johannes Paulus II pp




1. Cf Mt 8:23-27; Mk 4:35-41; Lk 8:22-25

2. Cf Mt 14:22-33; Mk 6:47-52; Jn 6:16-21


Appendix II


Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea


Opening Prayer

Lord God, you willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of your Son, should shine as the Star of the Sea over the raging waters of life, and you chose her to be our stronghold. Free us from all perils of soul and body through her assistance and guide us at last to the harbour of eternal peace.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.


Prayer over the Gifts

Be pleased, O Lord,

to accept the gifts of your Church,

so that, through the intercession of the loving Mother of your Son,

we may find mercy

and know the help of your grace

in time of need.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Prayer after Communion

Lord, you have granted us a share

 in eternal redemption.

Give us joy in the rich abundance of your grace

as we celebrate the memory of the Mother of your Son,

and make that grace grow stronger in us day by day.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.



A reading from the Book of Wisdom       14:1-7

One preparing for a voyage and about to traverse the wild waves cries out to wood more unsound than the boat that bears him. For the urge for profits devised this latter, and Wisdom the artificer produced it.

But your providence, O Father! guides it, for you have furnished even in the sea a road, and through the waves a steady path, showing that you can save from any danger, so that even one without skill may embark. But you will that the products of your Wisdom be not idle; therefore men thrust their lives even to frailest wood, and have been safe crossing the surge on a raft.

For of old, when the proud giants were being destroyed, the hope of the universe, who took refuge on a raft, left to the world a future for his race, under the guidance of your hand. For blest is the wood through which justice comes about.


            The Word of the Lord.



A reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah 43:1-3a,4-7

Thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your savior.

Because you are precious in my eyes and glorious, and because I love you. I give men in return for you and peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; from the east I will bring back your descendants, from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north: Give them up! and to the south: Hold not back! Bring back my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth: Everyone who is named as mine, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.


                   This is the Word of the Lord.




R./ Give thanks to the Lord,

      God's love is everlasting.

Let them thank the LORD for such kindness,

such wondrous deeds for mere mortals.

Let them offer a sacrifice in thanks,

declare God's works with shouts of joy.


Some went off to sea in ships,

plied their trade on the deep waters.

They saw the works of the LORD,

the wonders of God in the deep.


God spoke and roused a storm wind;

it tossed the waves on high.

They rose up to the heavens, sank to the depths;

their hearts trembled at the danger.


They reeled, staggered like drunkards;

their skill was of no avail.

In their distress they cried to the LORD,

who brought them out of their peril.


The LORD hushed the storm to a murmur;

the waves of the sea were stilled.

They rejoiced that the sea grew calm,

that God brought them to the harbor they longed for.



R/. Alleluia, alleluia (to be omitted in the Season of Lent)

A star shall come forth from Jacob,

and a staff shall rise from Israel.

Lord, how wonderful your name in all the earth.

R/. Alleluia, alleluia (to be omitted in the Season of Lent)




A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to Mary, the angel said, "Hail, favoured one! The Lord is with you».

But Mary was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age,

and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing is impossible for Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.


The Gospel of the Lord.




Appendix III





The International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA) is a free association of 27 Christian non-profit organisations, representing different Christian Churches and Christian communities, engaged in welfare work for seafarers working on merchant, fishing and passenger vessels. Each member keeps its independence and autonomy.

ICMA was founded in 1969 to encourage ecumenical collaboration and mutual assistance between these different organisations on the local port level, but on the national and international level as well. ICMA provides for the exchange of practical experience through conferences, facilitates an efficient and effective cooperation between port missions, and offers training for ship visitors and port chaplains.

The seafarers of the world remind us of the ultimate purpose of all God’s plans: “the end will not come until the Gospel of God’s Kingdom has reached to the borders of the whole inhabited world (oikumene)” (Matthew 24:14). In a fragmented and divided society, it is ICMA's mission to promote unity, peace and tolerance. That's why any ICMA chaplain or volunteer, generously and without hidden agenda, is committed to serve seafarers, fishermen and their dependants. ICMA is a non-profit organisation and registered as a Charity in the United Kingdom (No. 1003211). At present ICMA through its members represents 526 seafarers' centres and 927 chaplains in 126 countries.


ICMA Code of Conduct

Membership in ICMA carries an obligation to abide by the Constitution of the Association and of its Code of Conduct.

Chaplains and staff of all ICMA Member Societies at local, national and international levels are therefore to:

(a) Show an unconditional love to the seafarer as a human being, created in the image of God, and a sincere respect for her/his personal values and beliefs;

(b) Serve seafarers and their dependants of all nationalities, religions and cultures, languages, sex or race;

(c) Stand against, intolerance and injustice of any kind;

(d) Respect the diversity of ICMA members and churches and to develop common uniting goals;

(e) Respect the loyalty of those engaged in maritime ministry to their particular ecclesiastical discipline and tradition; refrain from proselytising Seafarers;

(f) Co-operate with persons, organizations and institutions, Christian or non-Christian, that work for the welfare of seafarers.


Appendix IV


Guiding Principles for ecumenical cooperation

Ecumenical co-operation, at least from the Catholic perspective, is only one aspect of the `Ecumenical Movement' which embraces a multiplicity of initiatives and activities the Church may engage in to promote Christian Unity. In particular, ecumenical co-operation is to be distinguished from that specific "dialogue" between competent experts and representatives from different Churches and communities during the course of which, in a religious spirit, each explains the teaching of their confession in greater depth and brings out clearly its distinctive features. Ecumenical co-operation on the other hand, though closely allied to this and not in any way opposed, describes these communions engaged in that more intensive co-operation in carrying out any duty for the common good of humanity which are demanded by every Christian conscience. They also come together for common prayer where this is permitted.

As an integral part of the Ecumenical Movement, the Catholic Church ardently wishes that Christians should be able to share that spiritual heritage which they have in common. By this is meant, all prayer offered in common, common use of sacred places and objects, as well as all sharing in non-sacramental liturgical worship. The Catholic Church places a clear distinction between `prayer in common' and `liturgical worship'. The latter is understood as worship carried out according to the books, prescriptions or customs of a Church or Community, celebrated by a minister or delegate of such Church or Community, in his capacity as a minister of that community. Prayer in common on the other hand, could include prayer services for unity, prayers recited during ecumenical gatherings and prayers that spring from a common concern such as the maritime apostolate and in which ministers as well as members of the Churches join.

The sharing in sacramental life, involving as it does the celebration of the Eucharist, is not considered as a means to be used for the restoration of unity among Christians and this must be agreed upon by the Authority of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities involved.

There are two main principles upon which the practice of such common worship depends:

  A. That of the unity of the Church which ought to be expressed, and

  B. That of the sharing in the means of Grace.


In its declaration of the position of the Catholic Church on the celebration of the Eucharist in common by Christians of different Confessions in 1970, the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity concluded by saying: "As this time when the Week of Prayer for Unity is about to begin, we are taking into account the extent to which the desire for a common Eucharist powerfully stimulates the search for that perfect ecclesial unity among all Christians willed by Christ. This desire can be expressed very appropriately in the celebrations which take place during this Week of Prayer. As well as the reading of and meditation upon Holy Scripture, these celebrations could in fact include elements which point towards the common Eucharist so much desired: our gratitude for the partial unity already obtained, and regret for the divisions which still remain and our firm resolve to do everything possible to overcome them, and finally, our humble petition to the Lord to hasten the day when we will be able to celebrate together the mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ"[28].

It has been felt prudent to include the foregoing regarding the ruling and clear practice of the Catholic Church with respect to the celebration of the Eucharist and the administration of the Sacraments in the Ecumenical context. It is not a matter of a strict or a liberal interpretation of a Church discipline. There are, in the view of the Catholic Church, theological and doctrinal matters involved which are still to be resolved, and the cause of unity is not served in the short or the long term by ignoring these matters or pretending they are not of consequence.

It can be said also, the Eucharist does not belong to us but to Christ, and Eucharistic sharing presupposes total consensus on issues such as the nature of the Church, the ministry and the Sacraments.

“A sacrament is an act of Christ and of the Church through the Spirit (Cf. CIC, can. 840 and CCEO, can 667). Its celebration in a concrete community is the sign of the reality of its unity in faith, worship and community life. As well as being signs, sacraments – most specially the Eucharist – are sources of the unity of the Christian community and of spiritual life, and are means for building them up. Thus Eucharistic communion is inseparably linked to full ecclesial communion and its visible expression. At the same time, the Catholic Church teaches that by baptism members of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities are brought into a real, even if imperfect communion, with the Catholic Church (cf. UR, no. 3) and that ‘baptism, which constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn … is wholly directed toward the acquiring of fullness of life in Christ’ (UR, no. 22). The Eucharist is, for the baptised, a spiritual food which enables them to overcome sin and to live the very life of Christ, to be incorporated more profoundly in Him and share more intensely in the whole economy of the Mystery of Christ. It is in the light of these two basic principles, which must always be taken into account together, that in general the Catholic Church permits access to its Eucharistic communion and to the sacraments of penance and anointing of the sick, only to those who share its oneness in faith, worship and ecclesial life (Cf. UR., no. 8; CIC, can. 844, 1 and CCEO, can. 671, 1). For the same reasons, it also recognises that in certain circumstances, by way of exception, and under certain conditions, access to these sacraments may be permitted, or even commended, for Christian of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities (Cf. CIC, can. 844, 4 and CCEO, can. 671, 4)”[29].

As mentioned before, prayer in common should be fostered as a constitutive element of our shared pastoral concern, both for one another as well as for the people of the maritime world.

It is to be expected that in all inter-confessional pastoral projects the specific identity of the participating Christian “Agencies” must be acknowledged.

The norms of the Apostleship of the Sea specify that the spiritual direction and apostolic formation of Catholic personnel is the sole responsibility of the AOS chaplain. They also stipulate that the AOS chaplain exercises his office of pastoral ministry under the sole authority of his own Superior.


"Dives in Misericordia"

It may be well to add to these remarks on ecumenical cooperation in maritime ministry with a quotation from the Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II, "Dives in Misericordia": "The contemporary Church is profoundly conscious that only on the basis of the mercy of God will she be able to carry out the tasks that derive from the Second Vatican Council, and, in the first place, the ecumenical task which aims at uniting all those who confess Christ. As she makes many efforts in this direction, the Church confesses with humility that only that love which is more powerful than the weakness of human divisions can definitively bring about that unity which Christ implored from the Father and which the Spirit never ceases to beseech for us 'with sighs too deep for words' "[30].


Some further ecumenical ministry guidelines

Listed below are some guidelines to assist practically port chaplains as they initiate, inaugurate and operate an inter-confessional or inter-church pastoral ministry and Christian welfare towards seafarers arriving in port.

            A. There must be agreement in principle and acceptance, both by the Ordinary and the port chaplain, that an inter-confessional ministry to seafarers in the port is desirable.

            B. A similar agreement, in principle, must exist on the part of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the port, already involved in, or concerned about seafarers' welfare.

            C. In the absence of some background experience in the pastoral care of seafarers, it would seem wise to consult with an experienced chaplain or representative of the International Christian Maritime Association.

            D. With the help of such a person, a meeting of all those interested should be arranged. The actual and projected needs of the port should be considered in determining what type of ministry is called for to meet the particular situation.

            E. As a result of this study it will be judged if there is need for either:

            1. A simple commitment involving ship and hospital visitation with the back up by a hospitality team or host part of the charitable reception of seafarers in port, or

            2. The foregoing with the immediate or eventual intention of establishing a `seafarers' centre' for those arriving in port.

            F. In the case of there being a need for a seafarers Centre, an overall management or supervisory committee is recommended. The duly appointed chaplains should be ex-officio members of this committee. Ideally, the International Christian Maritime Association members should be proportionately represented through the actively involved members of their respective local Churches. Because of special expertise in the maritime industry or in the business community, a particular person or persons could be included as members of the committee. It is important that such persons exhibit Gospel values.

            G. A seafarers Centre could be organised as:

            1. An inter-confessional partnership in service towards seafarers in which the ownership of buildings and equipment would be retained by the participating local Churches, but used and maintained by the supervisory committee for the needs of the work;

            2. An inter-confessional project in which there would be joint ownership of facilities in the name of the Seafarers' Welfare Agencies with trusteeship vested in the local Bishop or Church heads. Experience seems to suggest that for a more effective administration, one of the partners should be regarded and act as a `primus inter pares'. (This type of arrangement is recommended in situations where there are no pre-existing facilities, and there is a simultaneous joint approach to the work), or

            3. An inter-confessional partnership in service towards seafarers in which one or both of the parties are already involved in seafarers welfare. It is only reasonable to expect that the incoming party would make an agreed financial contribution to the overall expenses of the work in the port. It is valid to point out that increased membership and the increase in voluntary helpers makes the operation of a Centre more economically viable. The ideal is that the Centre would be self supporting. It is also pointed out that the representation and open participation of various Church groups does make a wider appeal to the patronage of the visiting crews, and hence to the viability of the Centre.

            It is particularly emphasised that in all inter-confessional pastoral projects, the specific identity of the participating Christian Agencies must be preserved and acknowledged. It is to be noted also that even though there is a high degree of cooperation and even integration in pastoral ministry among the chaplains and pastoral agents, in the sacramental ministry and in matters specifically Catholic, the role of the Catholic chaplain cannot be assumed by or transferred to a minister of another Church or ecclesial Community.


Five guiding principles for a successful ecumenical pastoral relationship

  1. Get to know “colleagues” from other Churches and ecclesial Communities: it is essential to build good and trusting relationships.

  2. Think ecumenically: before starting a project ask yourself: Can I do this with other Churches?

  3. Time and patience: do not be easily discouraged.

  4. Consultation: consult before the project has started.

  5. Try to anticipate difficulties: for example, regarding the Eucharist. Differences must be accepted peacefully and serenely, and one should respect one’s “colleagues“ commitment to his Church.


Model Letter of Agreement

It would seem that, following the preliminary study detailed in Appendix IV, a formal `Letter of Agreement’ should be exchanged by the respective “Ordinaries”. Even though such a Letter of Agreement would be tentative at first, setting limits when the matter would be reviewed, it does serve to place the work on an official footing.

The Letter of Agreement would briefly set out such matters as:

a) mutual agreement that a combined approach to seafarers' welfare by the Churches and Ecclesial Communities involved, is both practical and desirable;

b) what has been achieved to date;

c) who is partaking in this joint effort;

d) how existing or to-be-acquired resources will be held and administered;

e) composition of the supervisory or management committee;

f) date of review of agreement after joint acceptance.

Participation in such a project may be sought by the local Port Authority, the City Administration, or by some other secular body interested in seafarers' welfare, as e.g. the ITF. It may well be that the local Churches are invited to participate in an already existing, or planned secular project.

Again, the advice would be, to seek the counsel of those conversant with such joint efforts. While not all the principles outlined above will apply, the assets of the Churches and the Christian character of their involvement must not be compromised. 


Appendix V


The Regional Coordinator


Guidelines, circulated by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, concerning  their appointment and function according to the Norms of the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Stella Maris (Cf. Art XI para 13 &  Art XIII par 6).


I.  The Regions


            There are nine AOS Regions:

  1. North America and Caribbean

  2. Central and South America

  3. Africa-Atlantic Ocean

  4. Africa-Indian Ocean

  5. Europe

  6. Gulf States

  7. South Asia

  8. East and South East Asia

  9. Oceania


II.  The Coordinator


1. Regional Coordinators are chosen from among the National Directors in a Region and hold office during the five years between AOS World Congresses. During World Congresses, the Bishop Promoters of each Region, or National Directors on their behalf if they are absent, shall meet and vote for suitable candidates for that office. Three names are then submitted to the Pontifical Council for appointment.

After consultation with the Bishops or Religious Superiors of the Nominees, the President of the Pontifical Council appoints each Regional Coordinator and sends a copy of the letter of appointment to the Episcopal Conferences in their Regions for information.

 2. Regional Coordinators report to the Pontifical Council. They will however respect the autonomy of the Episcopal Conferences, of the Diocesan Bishops and of the National Organisations of maritime apostolate.

3. The Pontifical Council reserves its right and duty to relate directly with the Bishop Promoters, the National Directors and the Bishops of Dioceses in the various Maritime Countries.


III.   Function

The main responsibility of the Regional Coordinator is to cooperate with the Pontifical Council towards the implementation of the norms set by the Holy Father in the Apostolic Letter Stella Maris. Therefore there are matters which must be referred to the PCPCMIP especially when Episcopal Conferences are concerned. The Regional Coordinators will also study the communications issued by the Pontifical Council concerning the maritime apostolate and act accordingly. They may seek the help of a Regional Committee which should include at least two other National Directors.

1. The Regional Coordinator is to keep well informed on the maritime apostolate in the countries of the Region. This will be achieved through means such as:

- personal contacts with National Directors and Bishop Promoters at the occasion of a visit or National Meetings;                                        

- newsletters published by Apostleship of the Sea Centres in the Region which must respect their terms of reference;

- copies of reports sent by Bishop Promoters to the Pontifical Council;

- correspondence.

2. In order to assist the Apostleship of the Sea in every country of the Region to fulfil its mission of being «the institution which  provides spiritual assistance to people of the sea and aims at supporting the vocation of the faithful in the maritime world to give witness by their Christian life» (Stella Maris Art. 1), the Regional Coordinator will:

- support National Directors, especially as regards the training and the on going formation of chaplains and AOS people;

- promote the membership and active participation of maritime lay people in the service of the Apostleship of the Sea;

- promote mutual knowledge and support among national organisations in the Region, through circular letters or the publication of regular news-sheet/letter;

- propose, promote and support the various apostolic activities set up and co-ordinated at the regional level.           

3. The Regional Coordinator will promote ecumenical relations and collaboration on the waterfront with other Christian maritime Organisations in the Region.

4. In preparation for the World Congress, the Regional Coordinator will organise a Regional Conference which will take place under the auspices of the Pontifical Council. After the Congress, meetings of National Directors may be called to evaluate and promote the implementation of its  resolutions and recommendations.

5. Each year, the Regional Committee will prepare a budget proposing a just sharing of the expenses incurred for the regional co-ordination of the apostolate, and submit it to the National Directors of the Region and to the Pontifical Council.

6. Correspondence of general interest and copies of important letters to and from National Directors, Bishop Promoters, or local chaplains in the region will be forwarded to the Pontifical Council by the Regional Coordinator. In fact there are matters exceeding the ordinary procedure which need to be dealt by the PCPCMIP.

7. Regional Coordinators will send a yearly report to the President of the Pontifical Council about the main activities and events affecting the maritime apostolate or the maritime world in the Region, as well as about the progress or obstacles to ecumenical collaboration in the maritime ministry.

Generally, at the beginning of each calendar year, Regional Coordinators are called by the President of the Pontifical Council to a meeting for consultation on the international programme of the maritime apostolate.

Appendix VI


AOS International Fishing Committee




The Committee is  composed of the:

  1. Officer in charge of AOS International (PCPCMIP)

  2. AOS Regional Coordinators (9)

  3. One Observer from both FAO and ILO ( 2 ), if possible.

Experts and resource persons will be called whenever they are needed and also any other person co-opted by the PCPCMIP.


Schedule of meeting

The normal rhythm of meetings will be annual, coinciding with the Regional Coordinators yearly meeting,  with the possibility of having extraordinary meetings whenever it will be deemed necessary.

The “Ad Hoc Commission” proposed the following vision and mission statement for the future committee:



A maritime world in which the rights of fishers and fisher folks are respected, guaranteed and promoted according to the Social Doctrine of the Church and the regulations and conventions of international Agencies members of United Nations, such as ILO, FAO and others.



The Committee would like to reach out and provide pastoral care to all fishers and fisher folk. While being respectful of local, national, cultural specificity, the AOS mission is directed towards people of all religion, race and ethnic background so that their spiritual and material welfare be addressed and their human and labour rights respected.


The following objectives were established to help fulfill the vision and mission statement of the future Committee:


  1. Provide spiritual assistance to fishers and fisher folk whenever possible, in forms of liturgical celebrations, catechetical instructions and the administration of sacraments.

  2. Fishers and fisher folk should be considered integral part of the local Christian community and should be adequately represented in the parishes and diocesan structures.

  3. Raise awareness of the situation of fishing communities throughout the Church and civil society.

  4. Particular attention must be given to the families of fishermen. Women should be encouraged to start associations or groups that will offer moral, spiritual and material support to each other. Wherever applicable, special attention should be given to child labour situations. Generally for the promotion of children of fishermen, special programs such as scholarships or educational funds should be established.

  5. In maritime countries, especially, seminaries and pastoral training should include regular formation programme on maritime matters and apostolate.

  6. Information, research and data collection are very important in assisting the Committee to acquire a better understanding of the causal factors of poverty. Accurate and first hand knowledge will clarify the contribution of small-scale fishers to food security and poverty reduction and intervene directly on the root causes of poverty and bring improvement in the life and working conditions of fishers and fisher folk.

  7. Linking and assisting those in fisheries to collaborate with other sectors, and coordinate their activities to ensure an inter-sectoral and interagency approach.

  8. Networking among the different AOS members throughout the world must be encouraged, supported and strengthened.

  9. Recognize, define and advocate the rights of fishers to decent living and working conditions and their rights to access to resources. Advocate for a balance, where appropriate in the allocation of resources between industrial and small-scale fisheries.

  10. Assist in the development of fishers’ organizational capacity, and introduce methods that facilitate their effective participation in policy-making decisions regarding the sector and their conditions of works.

  11. Good governance is fundamental to improve the situation of fishing communities. Therefore advocacy for good governance, is to be encouraged especially towards a) inclusiveness (empowerment, decentralization) b) lawfulness (enforcement, legal reform) c) accountability (ensure that governments are answerable and accountable and open to challenge).

  12. Ensuring that the concerns of all categories of fisheries be recognized and addressed in all international standards.


Terms of reference

The following terms of reference  were proposed to facilitate the good functioning and the accountability of the future committee.

Under the guidance of the PCPCMIP and in collaboration with its maritime Sector, and taking into consideration the view of the AOS members expressed during the international/national/regional meetings, and in accordance with the objectives as set out by the Ad Hoc Commission and endorsed by the PCPCMIP, the future Committee will:

  • Provide general and specific guidance to AOS in matters regarding the fishing sector;

  • Promote and cooperate in all initiatives in favour of the fishing sector stressing inter-ecclesial and inter-sectoral collaboration through the normal channels of AOS structures;

  • Identify, monitor and evaluate activities undertaken at regional and national level, and make recommendations when appropriate;

  • Facilitate the exchange of information and networking between regions, particularly on effectives strategies employed to achieve objectives;

  • Report regularly (at least once a year) on its activities to the PCPCMIP.


Appendix  VII





The International Labour Organization (ILO), based in Geneva, is a United Nations agency that deals with labour issues affecting all workers. It periodically convenes special sessions to handle labour issues relating to the maritime industry. The ILO is a unique international organization because it allows ship-owners and trade unions to participate in discussions and to vote. The Holy See has Observer status at the ILO and participates actively in its deliberations. The International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA) also participates in ILO meetings as a non-governmental organization.

The ILO formulates conventions that are binding on the nations that ratify them. The most significant are the Maritime Labour Convention MLC 186, which  is a single instrument embodying all up-to-date standards  to be found in over 60 ILO Conventions, as well as the fundamental principles to be found in other international Labour Conventions, and the Work in Fishing Convention 2007, which represents a great hope for millions of fishers in the world.

These new Conventions “are an occasion to renew the efforts of AOS to advocate in favor of promoting their  adoption and insure their implementation. AOS members should be aware of their government’s position and campaign for their swift ratification and implementation” (XXII AOS World Congress, Recommendations, Maritime Authorities).



The International Maritime Organization, headquartered in London, is the United Nations’ agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships. It is comprised of 164 member countries and several non-governmental organizations. The IMO’s most important conventions have been widely accepted by many countries from all parts of the world. They include the International Load Line Convention, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and its International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS), the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). The IMO has shifted its emphasis from regulating technical equipment standards to regulating the human factors in maritime safety. The IMO’s objectives for the 2000s include taking a proactive approach to address trends that adversely affect the safety of ships and those onboard, shifting emphasis from technical equipment requirements to people, avoiding excessive regulation, and developing a safety culture and environmental conscience.

The IMO adopts international shipping standards and regulations, but it does not enforce them. Implementation and enforcement of IMO standards is the responsibility of Governments. The flag state of a ship has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring compliance with IMO standards. Port states also enforce IMO standards on foreign ships calling at their ports.

Every year IMO celebrates World Maritime Day. The exact date is left to individual Governments but it is usually celebrated during the last week in September. The day is used to focus attention on the importance of shipping safety, maritime security and the marine environment and to emphasize a particular aspect of IMO’s work.


MOU on Port State Control

A memorandum of understanding (MOU), is a legal document describing an agreement between parties. In the case of an MOU State Port Control, it consists of  an agreement between maritime Administrations, whose aims are to eliminate the operation of sub-standard ships in the waters covered by their agreements. This is done through inspection of ships to ensure that these ships meet international safety, security and environmental standards, and that crew members have adequate living and working conditions. When vessels are not found in substantial compliance with applicable laws or relevant convention requirements, the PSC system impose actions to ensure that they are brought into compliance.

There are at present three such MOUs: the Paris MOU, which covers the waters of the European coastal States and the North Atlantic basin from North America to Europe; the Tokyo MOU for the Asia-Pacific Region and the Indian Ocean MOU for the Indian Ocean Region



Appendix VIII





The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) established the ITF-Seafarers Trust in 1981. It is dedicated to the spiritual, moral and physical welfare of seafarers irrespective of nationality, race or creed. Its funding comes from the investment income of the ITF Seafarers’ International Welfare Assistance and Protection Fund, more usually termed the ITF  Seafarers Trust. The Trust, on the other hand, is limited to supporting projects, which directly benefit individual seafarers’ spiritual, moral or physical welfare.

More information is available on its website:



The International Seafarers Assistance Network (ISAN) provides a freephone telephone and web based advice service for seafarers. Its main aim is to provide a link between the seafarer and existing help, support and information services throughout the World.

To do this, ISAN provides a free telephone service which is available to any seafarer from any country in the world. You can call them 24 hours per day, 365 days per year about any issues which you may have. Their trained helpline staff will help by putting in touch with the agency which is most likely to be able to help. Whatever the problem, ring free on: + 800 7323 2737.

For more information consult their website:                                                                 



The International Committee on Seafarers’ Welfare is an umbrella organization dedicated to the practical implementation of the International Labour Organization policies on Seafarers’ Welfare. A non-profit organization, current activities of ICSW include: Seafarers Health Information Programme, Ship Welfare Visitor Course, International Sport for Seafarers, Twinning of Seafarers’ Centres, International Directory of Port Welfare Services, Guidelines on the ILO Instruments on Seafarers’ Welfare, Regional Seafarers’ Welfare Development Programmes and International Seminars on Seafarers’ Welfare. These projects and additional information about the organization is available at the website:


Appendix IX


Seafarers’ Rights and Advocacy


Centre for Seafarers' Rights New York

241 Water Street, New York, NY 10038


Tel.:     +1 212 349 9090

Fax:     +1 212 349 8342


Website: www.

Contact: Mr Douglas B Stevenson, Esq., Director CSR


Centro de los Derechos del Marino-Barcelona

Stella Maris Club

Passeig Josep Carner, 51, Barcelona 08038, Spain

Tel.:    +34-93-4431965/ 4420 962

Fax:    +34 93 4431 843



Contact: Deacon Ricardo Rodriguez, (mob.+34 6292 71391)


Justice and Welfare Secretariat

The Mission to Seafarers

St. Michael Paternoster Royal,

College Hill

London EC4R 2RL

United Kingdom

Telephone:  +44 207 2485 202

Fax             +44 207 2484 761


Contact:      Rev Ken Peters


International Seafarers’ Assistance Network (ISAN)

32 High Street, Purley,

Surrey CR8 2PP, United Kingdom

Tel:       +44 20 8763 3439

Fax:      +44 20 8668 1262

E-mail:   Website:



Appendix X


Glossary of Seafarers’ Welfare Agencies



AGISM   - Association pour les Gestion des Institutions Sociales Maritimes (France)

AISCU – Association of International Seamen’s Clubs of the Ukraine

AOS – Apostleship of the Sea (Stella Maris).

ASAN – African Seafarers’ Assistance Network



CDMB – Centro de los Derechos del Marino – Barcelona

CISB – Commonwealth of Independent States & Baltic States

CPC – Crisis Preparedness Committee (ICMA)

CSR – Center for Seafarers’ Rights of SCI NY/NJ (see SCI)



DGSS – Danish Government Seamen’s Service

DSM – Deutsche Seemannsmission (German Seamen’s Mission)



ESM – Estonian Seamen’s Mission



FAAM – Federation des Association D’Accueil de Marins (France)

FGSS – Finnish Government Seamen’s Service



HKF – Swedish Government Seamen’s Service (Handelsflottans kultur-och fritidsrad)



IASMM – International Association for the Study of Maritime Mission

ICMA – International Christian Maritime Association

ICONS – International Commission on Shipping

ICS – International Chamber of Shipping

ICSF – International Collective in Support of Fishworkers

ICSW – International Committee on Seafarers’ Welfare

ICWTWU – Independent Confederation of Water Transport Workers’ Union (Russia)

IFSMA – International Federation of Shipmasters’ Association

IHMA – International Harbour Masters’ Association

ILO – International Labour Organization

IMHA – International Maritime Health Organization

IMO – International Maritime Organization

INMARSAT – International Maritime Satellite Organization

ISAN – International Seafarers’ Assistance Network

ISF – International Shipping Federation

ISFMA – International Federation of Shipmasters’ Association

ISM Code – International Safety Management Code

ISPS – International Ship and Port Facility Security Code

ISS – International Sports for Seafarers (ICSW sub-committee)

ITF – International Transport Workers’ Federation

ITF ST – International Transport Workers’ Federation Seafarers’ Trust

IMB – International Maritime Bureau

ISU – International Salvage Union



JAWS – Justice and Welfare Secretariat (see MtS)

JSWA – Japan Seamen’s Welfare Association



KISMA – Korea International Seamens’ Mission Association



LAMM – Lutheran Association for Maritime Ministry

LIFE – International Seafarers’ Christian Missions



MARISEC – Maritime Secretariat (London-based) providing secretariat services for the FSF, ICS and other organizations

MARPOL – International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973

MEPC – Maritime Environmental Protection Committee (IMO)

MMtS – Mersey Mission to Seafarers

MNWB (UK) – UK Merchant Navy Welfare Board

MSC – Maritime Safety Committee (MO)

MtS – Mission to Seafarers



NAMMA – North American Maritime Mission Association

NGSS – Norwegian Government Seamen’s Service

NSM – Norwegian Seamen’s Mission

NUMAST – National Union of Marine Aviation & Shipping Transport Officers (UK)

NZC – Nederlandse Zeemanscentrale



PoSS – Ports of the Seven Seas (edited by ICSW)

PSAP – Philippine Seafarers’ Assistance Programme



QVSR – Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest



Sailors’ Society

SCFS – Seamen’s Christian Friend Society

SCI NY/NJ – Seamen’s Church Institute New York/New Jersey

SIRC – Seafarers’ International Research Centre (Cardiff University)

SiS – Sjomanskykan I Sverige (The Seamen’s Church Sweden)

SOLAS – International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea, 1974

SoSS – Sports of the Seven Seas (worldwide sports competition for seafarers)

SFS – Sailors’ Families’ Society

Stella Maris – See AOS

SM Finland – Suomen Merimieskirkko r.y. (Finnish Seamen’s Mission)

SPWO – Stichting Pastiraat Werkers Overzee (Dutch pastoral care to dredging people)

SWB NZ – Seafarers’ Welfare board New Zealand\



UNCLOS – United National Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982

USS – United Seamen’s Services



[1] John Paul II,  Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Stella Maris on the Maritime Apostolate: AAS LXXXIX (1997) 209-216.

[2] Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia Pastor Bonus, no. 150: AAS LXXX (1988) 899-900.

[3] Sacred Congregation Concistorialis, Leges Apostolatus Maris: AAS L (1958) 375-383.

[4] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, 31: AAS XCVIII (2006), 3, 243-245.

[5] John Paul II, Address to the XVI Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People: People on the Move, XXXVI (2004) no. 96, 5.

[6] Cf. XXI AOS World Congress: People on the Move, no. 90 Suppl. (2002), 301.

[7] Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the modern world Gaudium et Spes, 30: AAS LVIII (1966) 1025.

[8] Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus, 18: AAS LVIII (1966) 682.

[9] Card. Walter Kasper, Őkumenische Bewegung und Evangelisierung [The ecumenical movement and evangelisation], talk to the XII International Seminar for Catholic Civil Aviation Chaplains and Chaplaincy Members, People on the Move, XXXVIII (2006) no. 102, 157.

[10] Cf. Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church Ad gentes, 9: AAS LVIII (1966) 957-958.

[11] Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation to the Episcopate, to the Clergy and to all the faithful of the entire world Evangelii Nuntiandi, 5: AAS LXVIII (1976) 8.

[12] Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the modern world Gaudium et Spes, Preface: AAS LVIII (1966) 1025.

[13] Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 29: AAS LVII (1965) 36.

[14] John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo Milennio Ineunte, 49: AAS XCIII (2001) 302.

[15] Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi [The Love of Christ Towards Migrants], 39: People on the Move XXXVI (2004), 135.

[16] Regula Sancti Benedicti, Biblioteca Benedectina Intratext, Ch. 53.

[17] Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, 1: AAS LVIII (1965) 90-91.

[18] Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms of Ecumenism, Vatican City 1993; also in AAS LXXXV (1993), 1040, hereafter cited as Directory on Ecumenism.

[19] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint: AAS LXXXVII (1995) 921-982.

[20] Card. Walter Kasper, Őkumenische Bewegung und Evangelisierung [The ecumenical movement and evangelisation]: People on the Move, XXXVIII (2006) no. 102, 157.

[21] Directory on Ecumenism, 107.

[22] Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-Christians Religions Nostra Aetate, 2; AAS LVIII (1966) 741.

[23] Benedict XVI, Address to the Ambassadors of Countries with a Muslim majority and to the representatives of Muslim communities in Italy, Castel Gandolfo, 25th September 2006: OR, 27th September 2006.

[24] Benedict XVI, Address to the XVII Plenary Assembly of the PCPCMIP, 15th May 2006: People on the Move XXXVIII (2006) 101 (suppl.), 5-6.

[25] Benedict XVI, Address to the Representatives of some Muslim communities, Cologne, 20th August 2005: OR, English edition, no. 34, 24 august 2005, 9.

[26] John Paul II, Letter Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, 57: AAS LXXXIII (1991) 305.

[27] Hom. super Missus est, II, 17, PL CLXXXIII, 70-b, c, d, 71-a.

[28] Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, Declaration on the position of the Catholic Church on the celebration of the Eucharist in common by Christian of different confessions: AAS LXII (1970) 184-188.

[29] Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms of Ecumenism, Vatican City 1993; also in AAS LXXXV (1993), 1040.

[30] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Dives in Misericordia, 13: AAS LXXII (1980) 1218.