(image: Ian Simmonds, Unsplash)
Seafarers Sunday is celebrated internationally – a time to remember the contribution that seafarers make to our daily lives, and a time to think of seafarers’ welfare – those unseen workers who help keep the economy afloat and transport the essentials we need to survive.
Being a seafarer is tough. Crews can spend months away working long hours with little respite or contact with home. This includes navy personnel, master mariners and members of the merchant navy, and those involved in transporting goods around the world.
On top of the daily pressures, the threat of piracy, shipwreck and abandonment are ever present for the men and women who serve us at sea.
In recent years, this challenging job has become even harder. Increased restrictions and lockdowns (due to the global covid-19 pandemic) saw many seafarers working beyond the end of their contract, facing months of uncertainty and further separation from loved ones. That’s months of missed birthdays, anniversaries, funerals, and family celebrations.
Amid these challenges, the global Mission to Seafarers has been a constant source of practical support and reassurance.
In Victoria, Port Chaplaincy operates within a multi-faith environment and is delivered primarily through the Ship Visits Outreach Program, under the auspice of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. Rev. Onofre (‘Inni’) Punay is the Port Chaplain.
Now the pandemic restrictions have ended, about 30 extra volunteers are needed to help with the Mission’s work with seafarers. See article here. For more information, please email email@example.com.
St Paul’s Cathedral hosts a service each year (usually in Sept/Oct)
Words by Herbert Sumsion. He was Organist of Gloucester Cathedral from 1928 to 1967. The text, which is often associated with St Andrew (a fisherman), is taken from Psalm 107:
They that go down to the sea in ships, and occupy their business in great waters; these men see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For at his word the stormy wind ariseth, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They are carried up to the heaven, and down again to the deep; their soul melteth away because of the trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.Words by Herbert Sumsion (1997) based on Psalm 107
So when they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, he delivereth them out of their distress; for he maketh the storm to cease, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad, because they are at rest; and so he bringeth them unto the haven where they would be.
A prayer for Seafarers Sunday
Heavenly Father, we give thanks to you for your creation and all the beauty in this world. We thank you for the ocean, in its abundance, and for the people who toil on its surface. Without our brothers and sisters who are seafarers, we would not be able to enjoy all the blessings of this world. Enfold them in your fatherly love, guide their passage through storm, swell and darkness. May we always be mindful of our Global Family and be truly grateful for the sacrifices seafarers make each day. Amen (Source: Mission for Seafarers)
Be with Seafarers, Lord, on all their voyages, to cheer them and keep them safe in all dangers. Let nothing afloat or on shore cut them off from you. May they please you in everything they do. Bless all on board their ship, whatever their responsibility. Enable everyone to do their duty. Help them to be good shipmates and bring them back again safely to their homes and to those who long for their return, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
(Source: Catholic Bishops Office)
References: Mission to Seafarers