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Seafarers’ charity plans to extend welfare provision in Canadian ports

Port chaplains from across Canada from the Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) gathered last week in Montreal for their annual conference, organised by their national office.

Chaplains from Montreal, Trois Rivière, Oshawa, Toronto & Vancouver, together with overseas delegates, gathered to review their work and plan for future growth.

The Conference heard a number of moving accounts from chaplains. Fr Andrew Thavam, port chaplain in Montreal, told of a moving remark of a seafarer he’d had a long conversation with, ‘if I hadn’t met you today, I would have ended it’. The work of AoS chaplains in Canada continues to play a vital role in the mental health of seafarers.

Deacon Dileep Athaide, the AoS Vancouver port chaplain recounted multiple visits to a coal ship on which a 49 year old had suddenly died leaving behind a widow and two young children. The support that Dileep provided the mostly-Catholic crew, which included a memorial service and ship-blessing, greatly helped them cope with their grief and trauma as they set out on their long journey to Turkey.

The conference also heard from John Green, from AoS Great Britain and their experience of renewal to extend the ministry to more seafarers and their twinning programme to share this experience and their capacity with other countries including AoS Canada. Green said ‘collaborating with chaplains around the world means welfare for seafarers is more joined up’.

Regional coordinator, Karen Parsons, outlined developments in the US and the Caribbean to strengthen the outreach.

The conference was also an opportunity to launch of their new website www.apostleshipofthesea.ca

AoS Canada’s Bishop Thomas Dowd summed up the key to the future health of the work of the Apostleship of the Sea in Canada ‘One thing I’ve noticed is your enthusiasm, you folks care; you care about the ministry, you care about seafarers, you care about the future of the ministry’.

The conference concluded considering a number of recommendations; to improve their identity, to extend the ministry into new ports, to attract more volunteers to visit more ships and to raise much needed funds.
Source: Apostleship of the Sea

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