Jesus says, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28).
On Sunday 9 July, we observe Sea Sunday, when we are asked by the universal Church to remember especially the seafarers sailing the oceans of the world, a group of people who are especially ‘overburdened’. Sea Sunday is an opportunity pray for all those who live and work at sea, and for those who minister to them.
Here in Australia, we are privileged to enjoy a lifestyle that is envied by many overseas—a lifestyle that is made possible by the efforts of seafarers, who bring to us our food, our furniture, our motor vehicles and most of our white goods. These seafarers—about 30,000 of whom come from the Philippines—work long hours in conditions that most of us would not tolerate. They suffer from constant noise, vibration, fear of illness or injury while at sea, loneliness and depression. We are all beneficiaries of their work.
Sea Sunday includes an Appeal for Stella Maris, Apostleship of the Sea, the official maritime welfare agency of the Catholic Church, and the largest network of chaplains and ship visitors around the world.
Funds collected through the appeal will be used to provide practical and spiritual support to seafarers visiting our ports. Responding to Jesus’ call to his followers, the volunteers, chaplains and ship visitors of Stella Maris do whatever they can to assist these workers while they are in our ports. Around Australia, seafarers are welcomed and transported to city centres and Stella Maris centres, where they can relax and contact their families. You can assist that work through your prayers and by making a financial contribution.
Recently, Bishop Tim Norton SVD, the new Bishop Promoter of Stella Maris Australia, released a video inviting us to pray for seafarers and for those who assist them when they arrive in ports around Australia. Speaking of the particular challenges faced by seafarers, and outlining the practical and pastoral support that Stella Maris provides, he encouraged us give generously in support of this important work, reminding us that, ‘The risen Christ challenges us when he says, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”’
For more information, or to donate or volunteer with Stella Maris, visit www.stellamarisaustralia.org.
Melbourne Catholic03 March 2024
Melbourne Catholic01 March 2024