THE value of cruise ship chaplains was highlighted during the recent Costa Concordia disaster, Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) Australian national director Peter Owens said.
Speaking from the organisation’s headquarters at Wynnum’s Stella Maris Seafarers Centre, Mr Owens said the AOS supplied the chaplains for cruises both overseas and in Australia.
“The cruise ship chaplain aboard the Costa Concordia was able to assist shocked crew and passengers including the injured,” he said.
“It was a reminder of the importance of the role.”
The Costa Concordia sank off the Italian coast on the night of January 13.
So far 13 bodies have been recovered with 64 injured and an unknown number of people still missing.
Italy’s AOS joined other agencies to distribute clothing and food. It also provided spiritual and emotional support.
The country’s AOS national director Fr Giacomo Martino called for prayers to be offered for those who have died and those missing.
The priest and parishioners on the island of Giglio, where the ship sank, worked during the night to save passenger escaping the ship.
Mr Owens said as AOS national director he was responsible for collating a list of cruise ship chaplains.
“There are a total of 14 such chaplains in Australia,” he said.
“The list includes bishops and priests, retired or still working within their diocesan roles and also include clergy from within various orders.”
Last year more than 700 cruise chaplains provided 15,000 days of cruise chaplaincy across the world.
Brisbane Centacare’s AOS pastoral ministry is run from Wynnum’s Stella Maris Centre and also receives funding from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
As with other similar centres, it provides a means of connection to seafarers far from their home and families.
The special work of the church is known as Apostolatus Maris – Apostleship of the Sea and is the Church’s official work of caring for people who work on the sea on ships or fishing vessels.