Members of the Apostleship of the Sea from across South Africa met in Bloemfontein from 17th to 21st May to chart the future work of the charity.
Serious challenges facing seafarers and fishermen were addressed by the national conference. Fr Herman Giraldo, Durban port chaplain described the scourge of modern day piracy and the lasting effects it has on seafarers who have been victims of it. The conference also heard of some of the shocking conditions on some of the most poorly run ships in the fishing industry and the support AoS ship visitors provide to the crews of these vessels. The conference was also addressed by video link by Fr Bruno Ciceri, the international secretary of the AoS based at the Pontifical Council for Migrants at the Vatican.
Over the past 18 months AoS in South Africa has embarked on a twinning programme with AoS in Great Britain to share experiences to ensure that both countries can continue to support the faith and welfare of seafarers for years to come. John Green, from AoS GB told delegates by video link that lessons learnt from the twinning programme were informing similar ventures in other countries around the world.
Present for the duration of the conference was Archbishop Jabulani, the bishop promoter of the Apostleship of the Sea in South Africa, who led daily Mass for the delegates.
National Director Terry Whitfield (pictured) said at the conclusion of the conference, ‘It has been heartening to hear of the great work AoS continues to do in ports such as Durban, Cape Town and latterly in Richards’ Bay. We’ve worked hard in this last year to improve our communications with a new website recently launched. The conference helped us clarify the way ahead for the charity and in particular in 2017 we want to establish a national board that can ensure the countrywide provision of top class pastoral care for seafarers and fishermen for years to come.’
The conference was made possible thanks to a generous grant from Seafarers UK.