The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Right Reverend Philip Egan, has sent a message of support and prayer for cruise ship workers currently self-isolating or social distancing on ships off the South Coast of England during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bishop Egan recorded the message at St John’s Cathedral – including prayer, scripture and Benediction – and said his thoughts and prayers were very much with cruise ship workers at this time of crisis:
“Many are in lockdown and we learnt that you, too, on ships are confined. I am very aware that many of you are here in England – a long way from your home and your families.
“As a Catholic community we are very conscious of this, and we want to express to you our love and promise of prayers for you; we pray for you all the time,” he said.
Bishop Egan also said that he was proud to have Stella Maris working in the Diocese of Portsmouth. The Catholic charity, formerly known as Apostleship of the Sea, is working with cruise ship operators P&O Cruises and Cunard to ensure workers – who are isolating during the pandemic – continue to receive pastoral support and care.
The charity’s Director of Chaplaincy, Fr John Lavers, said:
“This is one way in which we are responding to their needs and we are grateful to the company who have approached us and encouraged us to provide this assistance which is most welcomed by cruise ship workers.”
Part of this outreach includes producing weekly video recordings of Sunday Gospel Readings, reflection and prayer conducted by the charity’s chaplains for the company’s cruise ship workers, offering a novel way of supporting their faith and pastoral needs during lockdown.
Stella Maris GB Chief Executive Martin Foley said the organisation was delighted to be working with Carnival UK and that this current outreach was an extension of a long-term partnership already in place with the cruise line.
Through its cruise chaplaincy programme, Stella Maris has, until the recent controls imposed due to the pandemic, deployed chaplains on board cruise ships to minister to the needs of crew and guests.
“Despite the ongoing Coronavirus restrictions, Stella Maris chaplains in Great Britain and around the world continue to provide support to seafarers, cruise ship workers and their families during this pandemic by working in close partnership the maritime industry, trades unions and others,” he said.
Watch Bishop Philip Egan’s message on YouTube
Stella Maris, formerly known as Apostleship of the Sea, is a registered UK charity. It relies on voluntary donations, grants and legacies to continue its work. 90% of world trade is transported by ship. However, the life of a seafarer can be dangerous and lonely. They may spend up to a year at a time away from home, separated from their family and loved ones, often working in harsh conditions. Stella Maris chaplains and ship visitors provide seafarers and fishermen with pastoral and practical support, information and a listening ear.
You can visit the Stella Maris website or follow the charity on social media.