Last weekend Archbishop Peter A Comensoli celebrated Mass at the Stella Maris Seafarers' Centre on Collins Street. While there, he recorded this short video message to thank the volunteers and raise awareness of the plight of seafarers during this time of the pandemic.
‘Hello friends. I'm currently at Stella Maris, the mission to seafarers here in Melbourne. They have this lovely centre you can see something of the background of it in this film. They have a centre here in Little Collins Street in the centre of our city but the principal work of Stella Maris is a mission to seafarers.
You know all those things that we buy on Amazon and what have you; all of our goods that we buy for our homes, all of our cars, much of our produce... It's the seafarers on these great shipping companies who provide those things for us. But their lives are very, very difficult. They are stuck on these vessels for many months at a time and they come into a port and have only a short time on shore – whether they come into a port to be able to make contact with family, to be able to buy things that they might need themselves... and it’s a very, very difficult life and they're paid very poorly to be honest.
We should be mindful of our seafarers, friends. Pray for them, do what you can for them, because they're providing all of the stuff that we need and want in our own lives. And that all happens without us even being aware of most of the time.
Here at the Stella Maris Centre in the city they have been going now for 100 years – Stella Maris is more than 100 years old, this mission to seafarers which is across the world: ordinary Catholic people who reach out to those who are on the ships and they bring them to shore, provide for them in their needs, and bring them company and friendship and a sense of belonging.
You might be interested to know that these seafarers – there’s over 1.4 million seafarers, merchant seafarers who are working on these ships – that they’ve not been able to come ashore in Australia throughout the COVID period. They’ve been on ships for months – they come in to port and normally they have a few days of R&R, bit of firmness on the land but throughout this period and still now, they are unable to get off their ships to come shore. Now that’s because of regulations that we have in our own country, which seems very unjust. But also the companies for which they work and not providing them with vaccinations. Surely that should be something that’s a responsibility for those who are profiting from the work of these great seafaring labourers.
So, do what you can. Support Stella Maris here in our city of Melbourne, or in most ports around the country there are Stella Maris Centres or groups of mission people who, from their faith in Jesus Christ, are reaching out to those who provide for us.
Do what you can, in the name of Jesus.’