Stella Maris

By Bob Gill


As we are approaching Sea Sunday, on 14th July 2024, it is a useful opportunity for us to think about the vital work carried out by the Catholic maritime charity, Stella Maris, in their support of seafarers visiting British and foreign seaports. With the increased globalisation of trade, seafarers play an important role in the supply of food, essential materials and consumer goods, necessary for the fabric of our daily lives, but sadly, the vulnerability of ships and their crews is often unheeded.

The charity, formerly known as the Apostleship of the Sea, was founded in Glasgow in 1920, with the aim of providing practical help and pastoral care to Merchant Seamen visiting British seaports. One hundred years later, this remains the fundamental purpose of Stella Maris. The work of the charity gradually expanded and currently there are approximately 1,000 chaplains and volunteers in over 300 ports, throughout the world. Although primarily a charity for Catholic seafarers, the charity offers spiritual and welfare support to all seafarers, irrespective of race or creed.

Due to the pressures of shipping schedules, crews are often in port only for short periods of time. The port chaplains listen to the concerns of the crews, over working conditions and separation from their families, and provide an opportunity for Catholic seafarers to hear Mass. This is especially vital for Asian and Eastern European crew members. The crews are often underpaid, living in poor quarters aboard ships and working in dangerous conditions. It is necessary for the chaplains and volunteers to act as advocates on behalf of crews, with the ship’s captain, the shipping companies and the port authorities, to try to resolve these problems.

It is recommended that you visit the Stella Maris website to look at the work of the charity, there is a particularly interesting section on Sea Sunday.

The work of Stella Maris is significant in the diocese of Middlesbrough, as the diocese contains two of the largest seaports in the United Kingdom: Tees port and Hull.

As part of the diocese community, we can help, by praying to sustain the work of the port chaplains and volunteers, in their support of seafarers.

On Sea Sunday we must remember the lives of seafarers, in the lonely, dangerous, and arduous work they face on their voyages, and think of the words of Psalm 107:

‘They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters.

These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep’ (verses 23 to 24).

Make a donation Online

You can make a donation to Stella Maris here

Sea Sunday Parish Pack

You can download a Sea Sunday Parish Pack here

Sea Sunday Resources

Download Sea Sunday Resources here

Disembarking – A Look Back at 2023

We’re the world’s largest ship-visiting network, serving many of the world’s 1.9 million seafarers and 38 million fishers.

Here’s a snapshot of our work in 2023:

  •          Stella Maris is based in 353 ports in 57 countries.
  •          22 chaplains and 80 ship-visiting volunteers in the UK.
  •          126,676 seafarers and fishers helped in the UK.
  •          1,895 ships in the UK provided in the gifts.
  •          1.368 ships provided with phone/internet cards for seafarers in UK ports.
  •          336 ships in UK ports provided with free WiFi for seafarers to contact home.
  •          39 grants disbursed through our Centenary Emergency Fund.