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From The Desk Of The

Regional Coordinator

Salute To the Seafarers The exact origin of hand salute has been lost to time. Some say that it came from Roman soldiers' shading their eyes from the intense light that supposedly shine from the eyes of their superiors. Another say it came from when men-at-arms wore armour - a friendly approach would include holding the reins of the horse with the left hand while raising the visor of the helmet with the right, so that one would know they meant not to battle them. Another say that the salute, and the handshake, came from a way of showing that the right hand (the fighting hand) was not concealing a weapon. A combination of showing an empty right hand, palm outwards, which was then raised formally to a helmet to raise a visor would demonstrate non-aggressive intentions, and therefore respect. In Tudor times, the helmet of a suit of armour was known as a 'sallet', a word very similar to the word 'salute'. The most widely accepted theory is that it evolved from the practice of men raising their hats in the presence of officers. Tipping one’s hat on meeting a social superior was the normal civilian sign of respect at the time. Repeated hat-raising was impractical if heavy helmets were worn, so the gesture was stylised to a mere hand movement. It was also common for individuals who did not wear hats to "tug their forelock" in imitation of the gesture of tipping the hat. During this year of the seafarer, we salute them for the service that they are rendering humanity. The movement of the world’s goods would not be possible without their invaluable contribution. Saluting the seafarers means that we mean them

well. We are their friends. We don’t intend to “battle” them. The reality of the ISPS code is that it makes for stricter regulations in the port environment. It denies them shore leave and the access of ship visitors. This makes us hostile to them. Some people even label them as a security threat or potential terrorists. Saluting the seafarers shows that we are concerned about their well-being. In view of the piracy problem, the anti piracy petition has been launched. The intention is to gather half a million signatures by this year’s International Maritime Organization designated “Year of the Seafarer” World Maritime Day on 23rd September. The petition opens with these lines: “Enough is enough! Governments must act now to fight piracy. Almost every day seafarers are being kidnapped and exposed to an increasing risk of injury or even death. Every day, seafarers transport the world's goods through areas where the risk of pirate attack is increasing. Every day, seafarers' families are suffering worry and uncertainty.” It calls for all international Governments to redouble efforts to end the capturing of innocent vessels and the kidnap and imprisonment of seafarers whatever their nationality. Saluting the seafarers means that we provide a friendly welcome in their ports of call. Our hospitality towards them is manifested when we have functioning drop in centers within port limits where they can touch base with their families and find a home away from home. It also means that we have AOS ship visitors who board vessels to welcome those seafarers who because of time constraint could not go to the drop in centers. This ship visitation makes the seafarers feel that they are important and that they matter. A friendly chat with the seafarers from the ship visitor could make their day. Saluting seafarers means that we have their spiritual needs in our mind as AOS workers. We bring them to the Lord in the Eucharist that we celebrate and in the prayer intentions that we offer. A prayer a day for their safety and well-being would surely be appreciated. Let this year then be a year that we tip our hat to them. We salute you seafarers and we ask the Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary to keep you in their loving and protective arms. Cheers! Fr. Romeo Yu Chang, CICM


Message From the Vatican Dear chaplains, volunteers, friends and supporters of the Apostleship of the Sea, The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has declared 2010 as the “Year of the Seafarer” to pay tribute to the 1.5 million seafarers for their unique contribution to society. It also seeks to increase awareness of the difficult situations they face, created by nature, but often also by people. Seafarers are usually defined as “invisible people”, passing quickly through the ports. The annual celebration of Sea Sunday invites the Christian communities to see and recognise them as “real people” who, with their hard work and sacrifices, make our lives more comfortable. The seafarers are workers different from those on land, because we do not see them going to work every day. Their contract requires them to leave behind their loved ones for long periods of time. They sail from port to port often in isolated places, with little time to go ashore before they sail out again. The perimeter of the vessel is the limit of their world, the confined space of the cabin is their home and they share their work with people of different nationalities and religions, often using a “Babel of languages” to communicate. For seafarers, loneliness is a constant companion with injustices being a regular feature. Moreover, in these times of economic crisis, crews are often abandoned in foreign ports. Pirate attacks are becoming more frequent and when an accident occurs, criminalization and detention are sometimes the price they pay on behalf of the vessel owner or the charter. Technological progress has made many changes to the maritime world; improving safety and reliability of the vessels and turnaround in port. But little has changed on the improvement of human needs of seafarers and fishers. These needs are simple; a warm welcome in a foreign country, a van to transport them to the city, a telephone or a computer to connect with their family and loved ones, a priest to celebrate Holy Mass – if they are Catholic – or bless them, a friend to listen to their stories and problems, a volunteer or a pastoral agent to visit them in hospital or in jail. The Apostleship of the Sea was founded by a small group of committed people in Glasgow on 4 October 1920 to provide spiritual and material assistance to “neglected” Catholic seafarers and to provide for their needs. Since then, it has grown beyond any expectation. Looking back at its humble beginning, we can see the providential hand of God in the way in which the Apostolate has spread throughout the world. Providing pastoral care, especially through ship visiting remains our main concern as it was at the origin of this Apostolate. Therefore, we would like to encourage everyone to continue to support this “Work”. We hope that the local Churches will be more and more involved in this pastoral care. The Apostleship of the Sea, with its network of

“Stella Maris” centers around the world, is always available to respond to the seafarers’ requests, welcoming them in a ‘home away from home’ and making their life a little easier. The chaplains and volunteers in many ports of the world visit hundreds of vessels, welcoming thousands of seafarers of all religions and nationalities, offering counseling, clothing, telephone cards, money and providing a ‘safe and secure port’ in time of crisis. Last but not least, they also help maintain in their life the openness towards the transcendental values. On the international and national level, the Apostleship of the Sea also does advocacy work to promote seafarers rights and provide

justice for seafarers. In remembering its 90th Foundation Anniversary and celebrating the Year of the Seafarer, we would like to make an appeal to the States to speed up the ratification of the 2006 Maritime Labor Convention, a fundamental instrument to improve the working and living conditions of seafarers. Finally, everyone on this occasion is invited to pause for a moment and pray for them and their families; and recommend to Mary, Star of the Sea, the chaplains and volunteers that every day generously walk along piers, climb gang ways and show love and concern for “those who for various reasons live and work in the maritime world” (Motu Proprio Stella Maris, Introduction). Antonio Maria Vegliò President

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto Secretary

04 Confronting The Harsh Life At Sea Life as a seafarer is not easy - traversing the vast ocean, not knowing what may happen. The only certain thing at sea is to expect the worst and hope for safety in the Lord’s hands. The first difficulty is loneliness. Not knowing what is happening back home and having to wait for weeks and months to know the situation of loved ones is hard. A young seafarer almost killed himself on learning that his younger sister was in the hospital and needed money for an operation. He had just become the breadwinner of the family, trying his best to take on the responsibility of a parent. He sold phone cards on board the ship so that he could make a little extra for his family. Thinking that he was not able to fulfill his responsibility, he thought of ending his life. But God intervened and saved him. AOS Taiwan’s Intervention AOS Taiwan saw the battle between Satan and the angels on the life of this seafarer. Satan had poisoned his fragile and innocent mind and wanted to claim his soul. But the angel of life intervened by using people to bring hope, love and healing to this innocent wounded soul. While in the hospital, this seafarer was continually haunted by the devil. He was constantly fearful of the uncertainties like “Who would take care of him in the hospi-

The important thing is: one should see the hand of God working to protect these people.

tal in Taiwan? With the doctors and nurses not being able to speak English, how could he communicate with them?” But the angel of life gave him AOS Taiwan and the priests and nuns to talk to him in his own native tongue.

This seafarer not only came out of his ordeal victorious but realised that life is wonderful with people around who love him so much. There were other people who were silently supporting this seafarer and willing to extend help if needed.

But still the demon continued to haunt him with constant worries and fears. "These people are not your relatives, they cannot help you and they are busy. Who will look after you 24/7?” In order to appease him, the angel brought his aunt, his father's sister from the Philippines to be with him. This was made possible by courtesy of the Philippine agency.

To mention just a few: the ITF London through Roy Paul, the International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA) in London through Reverend Hendrik la Grange, the International Committee on Seafarers’ Welfare - Southeast Asia Regional Committee through Budi, and many others who were silently praying for this seafarer.

Still the worries created by the devil in his mind lingered. “Now that you cannot work anymore, who will take care of the schooling of your two younger sisters?”

Life sometimes is harsh; especially the life of those at sea. The important thing is: one should see the hand of God working to protect these people.

But the angel enlightened AOS Taiwan and we contacted the office of one of the newly elected senators in the Philippines and asked that his sisters be given assistance in their studies. The senator agreed to put them on the Senator’s Scholarship Program. The agency also promised to give him a land job closer to his family.

AOS International was given the mandate to bring sight to the people of the sea, for them to see God in the midst of the tremendous challenges, storms and tsunamis of life.

The seafarer refused to take his medicine for fear of chalking up huge medical bills. He did not know that AOS Taiwan had contacted the Philippine agency and the owner of the vessel, both of whom had agreed wholeheartedly to assume responsibility for his hospital expenses.

God Bless, welfare providers! Fr. Loloy Napiere, MSP AOS-Taiwan National Director

ISSUE 01 01 ISSUE 2009 2009



AOS Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines The Apostolate of the Sea in the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro is a component of the Archdiocesan Ministry for Migrants and Itinerant People. The ministry takes charge of the migrants and their families left behind; both for those working on land and sea. There are 15 wives of seamen actively helping in the ministry. For the sea-based apostolate, we have the following services: 1.

Regular weekly celebration of the Eucharist at the sea port terminal for the passengers of the inter-island

received assistance last SY 20092010. Three of them graduated from the secondary level. This SY 20102011, we will have 30 students (18 are in the secondary level and 12 in the elementary level)

vessels that leave the port of Cagayan de Oro 2.

Regular monthly celebration of the Eucharist on board inter-island vessels that dock in the port of Cagayan de Oro for the vessel crew


Celebration of the Eucharist on board foreign vessels that dock in the ports of Misamis Oriental


Visitation of foreign vessels


Stella Maris Educational Assistance Programme for the children of port vendors and porters. 33 students


Regular monthly sessions, seminars and lectures for our student beneficiaries and their parents

We have already set up the Stella Maris Office and we are looking forward to setting up a Stella Maris Seafarers’ Center to offer more services to all seafarers.

For seafarers, loneliness is a constant companion with injustices being a regular feature.

Illegal entry into Indonesian territory There are many Filipino fishers who enter the country without any valid documents. They usually enter through Bitung, Sorong or Sangehi. They are always caught and put in prison. Father Benny Salettia from the diocese of Manado is with the Apostleship of the Sea in Bitung.

and suggested that they help them get a document that can permit them to go back to their country. They can also help the other fishers renew their papers regularly so that they will not have to enter illegally.

However, he felt that the owner of the fishing company should shoulder all the financial expenses in processing their papers as well as the penalty. Fr. Bennie Salettia Bitung - Indonesia

He strives to help them get back to their country. Sadly however, some will return illegally again. They have been caught several times already. It is very hard for Father Benny to solve this problem. On one occasion, Mr. Noel Servigon, the present consul-general of the Philippines in Manado visited the Filipino fishers who were imprisoned in Bitung. Father Benny shared this problem with him. Mr. Servigon expressed his desire to help them

The annual celebration of Sea Sunday invites the Christian communities to see and recognise seafarers as “real people� who, with their hard work and sacrifices, make our lives more comfortable.

06 Kobe Port Update Recently, more and more cargo ships carrying cars call at Kobe port. However, they do not stay long, arriving at 10am and departing at noon. These cargo ships are mainly manned by Filipino officers and crew, who are warm and accommodating. When you meet them for the first time you get the impression that they do not have problems at work. But when you speak personally to each of them, they will tell you their fears and their struggles in their work. For example, they fear the pirates in Somalia. They also cite their difficulties working with their European officers. From April this year, customs limit us to

one baggage per visit to the ship. Previously, we could bring newspapers, rosary, Bible etc in our visit. Now we are only allowed one item. And even though we have the pass to enter the port, we are not allowed into some areas due to restrictions. To widen the awareness of our AOS activities in Japan, we have scheduled to hold a seminar about AOS activities in Kobe on 10 July as our Sea Sunday event. The activity will start at 10am. Besides disclosing the work we do at the AOS, there will also be visitation to the Kobe port and the Seaman Center in Kobe. If time permits, we plan to visit one

or two ships before ending our day’s event with the celebration of holy mass and sharing. Recently, we have been visiting ships once a week. I know it’s not enough but I believe that the Lord will bless the small thing I am doing and touch the lives of these people. Last week, I received news from AOS Australia that a Japanese seafarer was baptised. This news is my inspiration to continue what I am doing in Kobe. God Bless. Written by Sister Isabel Kato Translated by Fr. Garry C. Gestoveo, CICM

Golden Week in the Port of Nagoya Golden week is a week-long vacation in Japan that takes place at the end of April until early May. And as expected most ships anchor outside the Port of Nagoya. Over the weekend, I was surprised to see four cargo ships that arrived in the evening. So I tried to do some visitation.

As I went up, I could sense that the mood of the seafarers was quite somber. But upon introducing myself as a priest and the AOS chaplain of the area, they welcomed me warmly and were extremely happy to receive the magazines that I had brought for them.

There were four who joined me the next day. I could sense that they did not leave the ship often. One of them forgot his passport while another left an important document behind. As a result it took us sometime before we actually left the port for mass.

I visited the cargo ship MV Sevillia, which is German owned, captained and chief engineered by Russians and crewed by Filipino seafarers. It was anchored away from the general cargo, and there was no loading or unloading taking place which is rather unusual for a cargo ship of its size.

I informed them about the Sunday mass in my parish (Minato Church) during the first Sunday of the month. At first they were reluctant to say yes, but one of the crew asked permission from the captain. He readily approved and so I scheduled a time to fetch them the next day for Sunday mass.

After clearing customs and on the way to church they spoke about their experiences. They came from Canada for a month and before they arrived in Nagoya port, they were anchored outside the port for engine repair. When they finally came to port, the captain did not give them their seaman’s pass. Worse, the pass they had


ISSUE 01 01 ISSUE 2009 2009


Abandoned Seafarers in Thailand AOS Thailand was rather busy recently when Ms. Apinya Tajit, aka “Jam”, the Deputy Director of AOS Thailand and Vice Chairperson of SEA RWC, was involved in two cases concerning MV Terso and MV Faro. MV Terso berthed in Songkhla Port, South Thailand with a crew of 14 Filipinos, a Taiwanese and a Chinese. The ship was under the management of Commercial SA from Greece. The problem was over wages. Some had no salary payment onboard for 4 months and the company had their allotment delayed for 2 to 3 months. They were

going to sign off as a new Chinese crew had come onboard to replace them. The company decided to pay only 60 per cent of their salary and the rest (leave pay and other benefits) was to be paid at the Manila agency office. They did not agree to this, as it would take 6 to 12 months to process the payments. They wanted to get all their wages and benefits onboard before they signed off. Aung Thu Ya from the Seafarers Union of Burma (S.U.B) worked together with Ms. Tajit to form the Thai inspecting team in order to find the best way to help the seafarers. He wrote several emails to the

ITF Maritime Operations. Finally, the crew agreed to accept the company’s offer of 60% payment onboard with the balance payment in Manila. MV Faro was under the same company of MV Terso. Seven Filipino seafarers informed Ms. Tajit that they did not receive their unpaid balance for May 2010 and leave pay onboard before their signing off. This case happened in the Bangkok Port and the Thai inspecting team visited the vessel. Again, Aung Thu Ya of S.U.B. wrote emails to the ITF and supplied the necessary documents, which were collected from the crew. The ITF Inspector (Manila) Mr. Rodrigo Aguinaldo has been going all out since he received the information. Three visits were made, which are very important for the troubled seafarers. The visits enabled the seafarers to have better personal and physical connection. It also gave them confidence in the Thai Inspection Team.

with them was expiring on that very day, giving them very little time ashore.

as public phones are in limited supply.

The mass had already started when we arrived in church. Seeing them praying deeply was impressive. After the mass they joined the community for a small celebration, chatting with fellow Filipinos.

Luckily, we were able to find one. They also needed to change money for shopping. With their tight schedule, they did what they could - contacting their family and buying some personal things.

As they had some errands to run for their fellow workers and themselves before reporting back for duty, they decided to leave early.

When I brought them back to their ship, they were all smiles and they never ceased to thank me for a wonderful time.

After two months of no communication with their family, they asked if they could look for a public phone. Of course, this was no easy task at most Japanese ports

Written by Fr. Masami Translated by Fr. Garry C. Gestoveo, CICM

We salute you seafarers and we ask the Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary to keep you in their loving and protective arms.

Thanks to the ITF Maritime Operation as well as the efforts of Mr. Rodrigo Aguinaldo, the seven seafarers eventually agreed to the settlement on condition that the company pay their unpaid wages and leave pay within three working days of their arrival back in Manila. It was no easy task getting the seafarers to accept these terms. The Thai Inspection team led by Ms. Tajit had to stay longer with the crew and took great pains to assure them that they were getting the best possible opportunity in such a difficult situation. The AOS Thailand is pleased to announce the appointment of Fr. Anucha Chaopraknoi as the Director of Stella Maris Bangkok effective from 1 June 2010. We welcome him to the AOS fold.

Do You Know That... Our Lady, Star of the Sea is an ancient title for the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. The words Star of the Sea are a translation of the Latin title Stella Maris, first reliably used with relation to the Virgin Mary in the ninth century. The title was used to emphasize Mary's role as a sign of hope and as a guiding star for Christians. Under this title, the Virgin Mary is believed to intercede as a guide and protector of those who travel or seek their livelihoods on the sea. This aspect of the Virgin has led to Our Lady, Star of the Sea, being named as patroness of the Catholic missions to seafarers, the Apostleship of the Sea, and to many coastal churches being named Stella Maris or Mary, Star of the Sea. The title most probably has its origin in the Biblical passage 1 Kings 18:41-45, which speaks of a cloud above the sea, no bigger than a man's hand, which is seen from Mount Carmel. The tiny cloud's scriptural significance is as the sign of hope that heralds the end of a long drought.

A nineteenth century painting of Mary, Star of the Sea A similar message is reflected in another title of Mary, which appears in the official Litany of the Virgin, Morning Star. Both titles refer to Mary as a symbol of hope and as a foreshadowing of the imminent coming of Jesus. A combination of the two themes produces Star of the Sea. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux wrote: "If the winds of temptation arise; If you are driven upon the rocks of tribulation look to the star, call on Mary; If you are tossed upon the waves of pride, of ambition, of envy, of rivalry, look to the star, call on Mary. Should anger, or avarice, or fleshly desire violently assail the frail vessel of your soul, look at the star, call upon Mary."

MV Karla Omayra

Fr. Romeo with the Captain

Fr. Romeo on board MV Karla Omayra

Hail, O Star of the ocean, God's own Mother blest, ever sinless Virgin, gate of heav'nly rest. From the Liturgia Horarum

The statue of Our Lady Star of the Sea venerated in the church of Sliema, Malta


SeafarerHelp, from the International Seafarers Assistance Network (ISAN), provides advice, assistance and support to seafarers of all nationalities across the globe. Our helpdesk runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you with any problems you might have. Whatever the problem, call SEAFARER free on:

+800 73232737

If the winds of temptation arise; If you are driven upon the rocks of tribulation look to the star, call on Mary; If you are tossed upon the waves of pride, of ambition, of envy, of rivalry, look to the star, call on Mary. Should anger, or avarice, or fleshly desire violently assail the frail vessel of your soul, look at the star, call upon Mary. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux


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