TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: Those Who Go Down to the Sea

Sea Sunday is an invitation for us to find out more information about the pastoral, spiritual, physical, and emotional support we provide to seafarers who come to our shores.

July 9 marks Sea Sunday, when we as a church remember and pray for those who live and work at sea. If you go to the Stella Maris website https://stellamarisaustralia.org/ you will be able to download a 2-minute video for Sea Sunday and Stella Maris, presented by Bishop Tim Norton the Bishop Promoter of Stella Maris Australia.

I trust you are aware of our outreach to seafarers here at the Port of Newcastle. Bernadette Barry is employed as a chaplain to the seafarers and ministers to seafarers at the Mission to Seafarers, https://www.mts.org.au/newcastle, which is the Anglican ministry to those who work on the sea. They are accompanied by volunteers who reach out to the seafarers who visit our port.

Sea Sunday is an invitation for us to find out more information about the pastoral, spiritual, physical, and emotional support we provide to seafarers who come to our shores. It also provides us with an opportunity to pray for them, and to provide financial support of this ministry. Some may even consider visiting or volunteering at the Centre which is in Hannell Street at Wickham.

Our scripture reading for this weekend, from the gospel of Matthew (Matthew 11:25-30), spoke to us about the words of Jesus, “Come to me, all who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.” For the 1.6 million seafarers who work on ships transporting goods around the globe, this is an apt gospel reading. These seafarers are the hidden workers at sea. They come from the poorer countries of the world, are at sea, away from home for many months, work in poor conditions with long hours for low wages, and rarely get to spend time on land.

When they arrive at a Stella Maris or the Mission to Seafarers Centre, they are welcomed and cared for, they can contact their families, they are taken to the shops, receive health care and often receive a nice meal. For some they are able to go to Mass at the Centre, or Mass can be arranged on the vessel. This is a safe place for them to share their stories.

Often those on the ships come from different countries and so communication can be difficult. Loneliness is a significant factor for those who transport our goods – cars, white goods, computers, food, furniture etc. Our lifestyle is dependent on seafarers, and for those of us who live in the Hunter, the coal which leaves our shores is exported from the largest coal port in the world.

Stella Maris is the worldwide apostolic work of the Catholic Church. There are more than 200 centres around the world. In almost every country bound by sea, there exists a community of people who care for seafarers, fishers and their families, regardless of their country or culture.

Stella Maris Australia (The Apostleship of the Sea) is registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). It is an ‘Other Unincorporated Entity’ with a Tax Concession Status of Public Benevolent Institution. It is an ‘Endorsed Deductible Gift Recipient’ with an ABN 16 746 412 764. Any donation over $2 is Tax Deductible for the donor.

I do hope this was brought to your attention over the weekend. You can donate on the website or volunteer at our local Mission to Seafarers/Stella Maris Centre. I personally could not live this life of isolation and poor living conditions. I think we are blest to be able to live out the mission of Jesus by having such a wonderful Centre in the Port of Newcastle.

At Stella Maris we pray that Mary, Star of the Sea, may guide and protect them in their journeys on the seas.

The following prayer for Sea Sunday was in this week’s Inner Newcastle Parish Bulletin:

Heavenly Father, we give thanks to you for your creation and all the beauty in this world. We thank you for the ocean, its abundance, and for the people who toil on its surface. Without our brothers and sisters who are seafarers, we would not be able to enjoy all the blessings of this world. Enfold them in your fatherly love, guide their passage through storm, swell and darkness. May we always be mindful of our Global Family and be truly grateful for the sacrifices seafarers make each day. Amen.

Just a reminder that Noel Pearson will be with us next Sunday, speaking about the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and Common Grace will be providing a workshop on Tuesday 18 July, regarding table talks about the Statement and the referendum. Before the vote, later in the year, it is important for us to be informed and to pray for wisdom.

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Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is Director Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.