Seafarers Celebrated Centenary Year of Sea Sunday
12th July 2020
Seafarers in India celebrated the Centenary Year of Seafarers by observing 12th July 2020 as Sea Sunday.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, President of Catholic Bishops Conference of India while commemorating the seafarers during the Sunday Mass in Mumbai expressed his solidarity with the seafarers, fishers and their families.
Bishop Alex Vadakumthala, the Chairman of CBCI Office for Labour and Promoter of Apostleship of the Sea – India offered Mass at Cochin and congratulated the Chaplains of the Seafarers’ ministry in India. He also saluted the seafarers and the fishers who are doing a great service to the humanity through providing protein rich fish, transporting goods and consumables to various countries in the world.
The Seafarers Apostolate was founded in the Glasgow, Scotland in the year 1920. It provides pastoral care to the seafarers through the Chaplains all over the world. During the Pandemic, COVID 19, when millions of seafarers and fishers are stranded in various ports and harbours around the world.
Cardinal Peter A. Turkson, Prefect of the Congregation for Promoting Integral Human Development in his message on Sea Sunday stated that, “You are not alone, you are not forgotten”. This is an expression of solidarity and concern of the church for the distressed seafarers, fishers and their family members.
To commemorate the centenary of the Sea Sunday, AOS India organized a Web Conference on 12th July 2020. Bishop Alex Vadakumthala inaugurating the Web Conference stated that hundreds of thousands of seafarers were stranded in various ports all around the world. They had undergone tremendous mental agony and stress that they were not even permitted to disembark from the ships at the ports. After exertion of pressure by various Unions of the seafarers, they were permitted to land at ports, many are not yet repatriated to their home countries. Expressing the traumatic experiences of the partners of the seafarers, Bishop said that the life of the sailors wife is to wait, wait till he comes back. Hence the Apostleship of the Sea needs to initiate joint activities to uphold the rights and dignity of the seafarers and the fishers. He announced the members of National Advisory Team which comprises of Fr. Johnson Chinammel, Captain Venzy Viegas, Captain Manoj Mathew, Fr. Eugene Pereira and Fr. Roque Norohna.
Speaking on the occasion, Fr. Jervis D’Souza, the Deputy Secretary General of CBCI said that there are over one lakh seafarers engaged in the transportation of 90% of the goods in the globalized world. Despite the valuable service of seafarers in the Global economy, they were left helpless at the time of COVID 19. The Sea Sunday is an opportunity for us to recall the agonizing experiences of the seafarers and to set right the policies of the governments in such matters.
Fr. Eugene Pereira, Secretary to CBCI Office for Labour said that the seafarers in India need to get organized and they need to work for collective bargaining to establish social security and dignity of labour.
Fr. Roque Noronha, the National Director of AOS India said that there are currently twelve chaplains in the twelve major ports in the country for ensuring pastoral care and social wellbeing of the seafarers and the fishers. The ministry in these twelve ports may be strengthened by forming Advisory Committees each port. Fr. Dominic Carvalho, the chaplain from Goa presented the potential of web based communication channel to enroll the data base of the sailors, crew members and the port based workers and fishers. Captain Venzy Viegas proposed that the Apostolate needs to frame a short term plan of activities to strengthen the ministry. He also proposed the need of collaborating with the government in forming certain social welfare and social protection schemes for the seafarers. Captain Manoj Mathew who joined the conference from the ship was very positive on being a member of the Advisory Committee and promised his full support in the initiatives of the Apostleship of the Sea.
Fr. Eugene H. Pereira Fr. Roque Norohna
Secretary, CBCI Office for Labour, Director, Apostleship of Sea - India
New Delhi, India.