From the June 2018 edition…
Faith on the ocean wave
With its proud roots here in Glasgow, Apostleship of the Sea celebrated its past last month while embracing the future in the city where it all began.
Fittingly Glasgow will host in 2020 the 25th World Congress of the organisation. In preparation supporters of the much-loved charity gathered on board the historic Tall Ship, ‘Glenlee’ anchored on the Clyde, to recognise its sterling work supporting seafarers for almost 100 years.
From its humble origins in St Aloysius’ Church, Garnethill, the charity has expanded internationally and those present on the night were intrigued to hear first-hand of exciting plans to mark the charity’s centenary in just over two years.
As the evening unfolded with thought-provoking insights from Port Chaplain, Rev Joe O’Donnell, and Fr Bruno Ciceri – International Director of the Apostleship of the Sea, part of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
The first meeting of the organisation was held in Glasgow on the evening of 4 October, 1920 in the Catholic Institute, Cochrane Street – now luxury city centre flats – with the revival of ship-visiting in riverside cities like Glasgow a top priority.
Since then, expansion has been such that seafarers, fishermen, and their families around the world are all being assisted as part of a global outreach: 318 ports worldwide, 59 countries, over 220 Port Chaplains.
With a rapidly growing need to extend a hand of friendship to seafarers arriving on the Clyde, the first constitutions soon received the blessing of Pope Pius XI in April 1922, with the invitation to develop this Apostolate all over the world, an invitation which continues to inspire the organisation to this day.
The Glasgow Observer was soon reporting that Mgr Donald Mackintosh, the third post-reformation Archbishop of Glasgow, had been nominated as its first President. He was to prove no mere figure head but a shining example of a church leader who recognised the spiritual needs of seafarers.
A further advancement came in 1938 when the XI International Apostleship of the Sea MIC Congress was held in Glasgow for five days in September.
Eighty years on, the Apostleship of the Sea is still busy offering spiritual and practical support to seafarers and their families. Senior Regional Port Chaplain, Rev Joe O’Donnell, spoke of the case of coming to the crucial aid of Croatian seafarer, Zlatko Kosack, earlier this year.
Back in January, Zlatko was badly burned while working in a confined space on an oil tanker in Grangemouth which left him requiring a skin graft in Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary.
Joe, from Clydeport, soon assisted the Croatian engineer after receiving a phone call from the harbour master informing him that he had been transferred to hospital.
Until the day Zlatko left hospital to return to his native Croatia, Joe helped his wife, Vesna, find accommodation and arranged for her to use the cooking facilities at nearby St Mungo’s Church in Townhead every day.
Rev O’Donnell, who also covers the ports of Greenock, Leith, Hunterston and Troon, said: “Helping Zlatko is exactly the reason why we exist as a charity.
“We are there to offer help to support to seafarers when they need it most, and quite often they are thousands of miles away from home, like Zlatko.
“It says a lot when someone like Zlatko is prepared to return to these shores sometime in the future and volunteer his time with the Apostleship of the Sea.
“I’m just humbled to be a part of the organisation and it’s a real privilege to help in whatever way I can.
“Human trafficking is also another major issue, and that’s a problem we’re increasingly facing even here in Scotland.”
While staying true to its origins, the Apostleship of the Sea underwent a relaunch in June 2005, featuring a celebration of this worldwide Scottish success story which took place in St Aloysius’ church, Garnethill, Glasgow.
Those present that night included the late Michael Martin MP, Speaker of the House of Commons and the proud son of a merchant seaman and supporter of the organisation.
Seafarers are typically away from home for nine months at a time. They suffer loneliness in missing loved ones for such long spells, and even exploitation while their working conditions are often cramped and dangerous.
Due to radical changes in the international shipping industry in recent years, AoS in Scotland has moved away from the provision of hostels for seafarers and focuses instead on ship visiting, and drop-in centres.
Fr Bruno Ciceri whetted appetites by turning attention towards the XXV Apostleship of the Sea World Congress which is coming back home to Glasgow from 29 September to 4 October, in 2020.
He said: “We are thrilled to be back in Glasgow with the local church, the Bishop Promoter, chaplains and volunteers to celebrate the first 100 years of the Apostleship of the Sea and together we are looking forward to the next 100...
“We thank you Glasgow for giving us Apostleship of the Sea.
“This is an opportunity to rejoice for the history of our work, and to give thanks for the people that have created our history.
“We want you to be inspired for the future. Hopefully we will see many of you again in 2020.”
• Euan Mcarthur is development officer, Scotland, for the Apostleship of the Sea. For more details and to find ways to donate email email@example.com
Youth to take centre stage
On Thursday June 7 close on a thousand S6 pupils, their proud families teachers, friends and relatives will crowd into the Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow for the presentation of the annual Caritas awards.
Now in its seventh year the Pope Benedict XVI Caritas Award was launched after the visit of the Pontiff to Scotland in 2010 during which he famously urged young people to become ‘saints of the 21st century’.
Barbara Coupar, Director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service who oversees the organisation of the event in conjunction with schools in the Archdiocese said: “The loving service of the pupils within the Archdiocese of Glasgow shows the commitment that each of the participants have to developing their personal faith life and sharing that with the wider community.”
A week after the Caritas awards, on Thursday June 14, around 9000 pupils, representing Catholic schools throughout Scotland will gather at Falkirk stadium for a national schools’ mass to mark the 100th landmark anniversary of the Education Act which brought Catholic schools into the state funded system.
In looking forward to both events Archbishop Tartaglia spoke of his joy to see young Catholics witnessing to the faith.
He said: “Over the years, the Caritas Awards have recognised that senior pupils at Catholic schools have been challenged to put their faith and religious education to practical use in the service of people in parishes and in the community.
“These awards demonstrate to young Catholics that faith and life are inseparable, and that our faith is lived through loving service in our parishes, in our communities and beyond. In this important centenary for Catholic education, this is how Catholic schools renew their mission for the future.”
Predicting that the National Mass would be one of the most memorable religious events to be held in Scotland this year the Archbishop added: “With nearly 9000 children and young people from Catholic schools coming together with their bishops, priests and teachers to celebrate the Eucharist in the Falkirk Stadium, the National School Mass will an explosion of colourful, youthful, irrepressible joy for their faith and for their Catholic education and a most fitting way to mark the Centenary of the 1918 Education Act.”