Seafarers organisation head appointed to Vatican

 Commodore Chris York, national director of the Apostleship of the Sea, has been appointed by Pope John Paul II as one of eight new consultants for the Vatican department which oversees the Church's work amongst migrants and itinerant workers, including international seafarers. The department formally known as the 'Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Workers' is charged by the Pope to bring the pastoral assistance of the Church to all those "people on the move" such as: migrants, exiles, refugees, displaced people, fishermen and seafarers, air travellers, road transport workers, nomads, circus people, fairground workers, pilgrims and tourists. Commodore Chris York said: "This appointment of the Holy Father is recognition of all the work that God is accomplishing through AOS in England and Wales. Thanks to the generous support of the Church in England and Wales, we have begun to train and deploy new Port Chaplains and ship visitors around our coast to support the faith of seafarers and spread the Gospel in the maritime community." AOS Media Director Alex King said: "Four years ago, the trustees presented to the Bishops conference of England and Wales a plan to make AOS relevant to the lives of seafarers in the twenty-first century. Thanks to the leadership of Commodore York in driving forward this plan, the dedication of AOS Port Chaplains and ship visitors and above all the generous support of the Catholic community, AOS in England and Wales has been recognised by the Holy Father as making an important contribution to the ability of the Church worldwide to support all those on the move." Like many of the 'people on the move' seafarers typically work away from home on contracts of 9 or 12 months, away from family and home. Predominantly coming from poorer countries, seafarers suffer loneliness and isolation and not infrequently, abuse, abandonment and having wages withheld. Commodore Chris York who originates from Bath, served for thirty years in the Royal Navy including a period as Executive Officer of HMS Ark Royal. Commodore York's time in the Royal Navy gives him personal experience of the separation of seafarers from home and family and the necessity of the pastoral care of the Church for all those on the move. Commodore York has been National Director of AOS, England and Wales since August 2001.

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