The Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) is the Catholic Church's outreach to the millions of seafarers engaged in the shipping industry around the world. Ninety-five percent of world trade is carried by ship, and every year over 10,000 merchant ships visit Scotland alone. However, the conditions of seafarers themselves are hidden from us.
Seafarers are typically away from home for nine months at a time. They suffer loneliness, depression and even exploitation, while their working conditions are cramped and often dangerous. AOS port chaplains and ship visitors provide seafarers with companionship, practical assistance and spiritual support.
AOS was founded in Glasgow in 1922, and
has since spread around the world. It is now active in over 100
The international shipping industry has changed radically in recent years as a result of globalisation and rationalisation. Average turnover time for ships in port has been reduced to just 12 hours and ports have been relocated to areas away from towns and traditional port centres. In recognition of these changed circumstances, AOS in Scotland is changing emphasis away from the provision of hostels for seafarers and will concentrate on ship visiting, drop-in centres and sea-going chaplaincy. In order to achieve this new ministry more effectively, it is joining up with its counterpart in England & Wales to form one entity for Great Britain.
This relaunch is being celebrated in St Aloysius' Church, Glasgow (25 Rose Street, Glasgow, at 11am this Saturday with a celebration Mass presided over by the Most Rev Mario Conti, Archbishop of Glasgow. This will be followed by a reception in the Clavius Forum, St Aloysius' College.
Among those attending will be the Rt Hon Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons and the son of a merchant seaman.© Independent Catholic News 2005