Fr David Burke, a former port chaplain with Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) celebrated Mass for seafarers, their families and all who support them at the church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, Soho, on September 26.
Fr David, now parish priest of Sacred Heart in Berkhamsted, previously served as a port chaplain in the ports of Hull and Goole before becoming a priest.
In his homily Fr David said: "During my time as port chaplain I had the privilege to visit many ships; and despite the hardship, loneliness and isolation felt by the seafarers, those on board were always full of smiles of gratitude that someone from the Apostleship of the Sea had come to visit, with a word, a prayer, some news, a phone card, a bible, a woolly hat, a trip to local seafarers centre or opportunity to go into town, or the opportunity to have Mass on board that evening."
Nearly 70 percent of seafarers are estimated to be Catholic, coming from places like the Philippines, Poland and Goa. Apostleship of the Sea network of port chaplains, ship visitors and volunteers provide spiritual and practical assistance to seafarers by being a friend in port.
In his homily, Fr David also spoke of 'kabayan' - a Filipino word used when one Filipino meets another they haven't met before. It asks generally if the other is a countryman and informs a stranger that they are friends that they have not yet met.
It conveys a sense of fraternity, friendship, a closeness established between seafarers, and a connection that they are children of God, said Fr David.
"At this Mass we celebrate for all seafarers, families and those who support them, we also celebrate the 'kabayan' of the Apostleship of the Sea around the world and in the UK; 'kabayan' showed to all seafarers, our 'kabayan' as Apostleship of the Sea," said Fr David.
"Our ship visit, our welcome, the small gesture, the friendship, the chat, the rosary, the sharing of a biscuit - these can never be underestimated because it is often in these encounters that God works," he added.
Apostleship of the Sea celebrates its centenary in October next year, which kicks-off with its 25th World Congress in Glasgow where it was founded.
Watch the welcome video here: https://youtu.be/5Jazc5ObbqI
Read more about AoS/Stella Maris here: www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk
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