The Apostleship of the Sea is celebrating 50 years of its mission Abidjan, the war-torn capital of Ivory Coast. The Church’s official maritime charity has maintained its presence in the west African country through the outbreaks of violence that have erupted in the years since the coup in 1999.
During the civil war last year, which claimed 3,000 lives, port chaplain Father Celestin Ikomba, a member of the Sons of Charity, a French religious congregation, was forced to suspend his work with seafarers.
Instead he brought young people from opposite political factions together and encouraged them to turn away from violence.
Now now the war has ended and the harbour is full of ships again. Many of the sailors who arrive in Abidjan use the seamen’s club, which was originally established by Apostleship of the Sea in 1963. “There are ships coming into the port every day now. The violence has stopped and we are at peace now,” said Father Celestin. I am currently trying to assist some Syrian seafarers who haven’t been paid. I have contacted the International Transport Workers Federation to try and sort out the problem.”
Father Celestin and his 15 volunteer ship visitors are planning a special Mass in October to celebrate Apostleship of the Sea’s jubilee in Abidjan.
For more information visit: http://www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk