Senior leaders of the Anglican and Catholic churches have called on parishes to support Sea Sunday in July.
The Archbishop of Westminster, head of the Catholic church in England, and the Archbishop of York, the head of the Church of England in the North of England, hailed the work of Liverpool Seafarers Centre as they encouraged communities to back seafarers as part of the global event on Sunday July 14.
The annual event witnesses Christian churches of all denominations remembering and praying for seafarers, giving thanks to their lives and work.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, paid tribute to all those working on the sea in often dangerous conditions.
He said: “There are thousands of ships crossing the world’s oceans, every moment of every day. They carry everything from passengers on holiday, to the food we eat, to cars, household furniture and all manner of freight. Brave and highly skilled women and men work long hours, often in dangerous conditions to crew these ships. We are so grateful. The Lord Jesus Christ knew all about the sea: the storms and the raging waters.”
Dr Sentamu also praised those who devote their time to the welfare of workers through the ecumenical charity, Liverpool Seafarers Centre. “Thank you to those who volunteer and work for the Liverpool Seafarers Centre, welcoming and caring for seafarers who sail into and out of the Mersey each day,” he said. “In the name of God they provide stillness, calmness, tranquillity and peace. A place of welcome – a brief stopover to call home.”
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, recently visited the charity’s headquarters in Crosby to learn about the support it delivers to 50,000 seafarers passing through the Port of Liverpool each year.
Cardinal Nichols, who grew up in Crosby, said Sea Sunday offered a terrific opportunity to recognise the role of seafarers.
He said: “It is wonderful to know that the centre is there to respond to the needs of seafarers, with practical and spiritual support, and I really do want to thank them. Seafarers have long been synonymous with the city of Liverpool being part of the fabric and identity of the city. But more importantly, they play a fundamental role in each of our lives, with 95pc of British imports and exports transported by sea.
“When I visited Tilbury Docks a few years ago where I saw first-hand the confined quarters in which seafarers live. all the dangerous edges they negotiate, with huge amounts of heavy equipment and other machinery. I was surprised to learn about the speed with which ships turn around and the limited opportunities crew members have to get off the ships and to do the things you can’t do on ships, such as go to church, shop, get medical attention and contact their families.”
Liverpool Seafarers Centre CEO John Wilson said the centre relies on the support of parishes to undertake its work.
“Sea Sunday is a very important date in the calendar to remember, and pray for, the silent army of seafarers we depend on who provide 90pc of all imports and exports,” he said. “Many are deeply religious and our work as an ecumenical charity enables us to stage church services for them both in our chapel in Crosby and on-board ship. We further provide practical support to all seafarers who live challenging often lonely isolated lives away from family and loved ones for long periods, as a central part of our mission.”
Liverpool Seafarers Centre is a partnership between the Catholic Apostleship of the Sea (Liverpool) and the Anglican Mersey Mission to Seafarers. Its history dates back to the 19th century. The charity provides ‘a lifeline’ to seafarers both active and retired and provides support to 50,000 seafarers passing through the Port of Liverpool each year. It offers a safe and secure place to rest and receive practical and emotional support through its bases in Liverpool Cruise Terminal, Crosby and Eastham. It garners the support of many cross-denominational faiths and organisations.
On a practical level, it provides access to WIFI, money exchange and a physical base on land for crew to take relief from the vessel. It offers emotional support for ‘major life events’ such as births, marriages, deaths, bereavements and divorce. The centre also acts as a mediator communicating with ship management companies to ensure seafarers are being properly cared for.