October 4, 2019, opens the year of preparation for the centenary of the foundation of the Catholic organization at the service of seafarers, fishermen and their families around the world.
Rome, October 4, 2019 – October 4, 2019 opens the year of preparation for the centenary of the foundation of Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea), a unique opportunity to celebrate the Catholic organization at the service of seafarers, fishermen and their families around the world, which will culminate with the XXV World Congress in Glasgow, from 29 September to 4 October 2020. The opening of the Centenary will be commemorated in all the Stella Maris centers of the world, with a great celebration or a simple ceremony that leads to the rediscovery of the history of this ministry.
Celebrations, Meetings and Seminars
As announced last July 14 by Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development on the occasion of Sea Sunday 2019, the entities involved, at national and international level will be government agencies, civil society, funding agencies, trade unions, maritime organizations, and with them the ecumenical partners and the people who have contributed to the growth and development of the Apostleship of the Sea.
The Dicastery also suggested some activities be planned in the months preceding the event, such as periodic celebrations, ecumenical prayer meetings, pilgrimages, seminars and symposia on maritime well-being to promote and defend the human and labor rights of seafarers. The closing ceremony of the centenary celebration will be held at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow, Sunday 4 October 2020.
In Glasgow, Where Stella Maris Was Reborn
« Already in past centuries, priests and religious from various congregations ventured into ports all over the world, seen as violent and perdition places, they to try to save and redeem souls – Father Bruno Ciceri, International Director of the Apostleship of the Sea, wrote in the Osservatore Romano – Although many attempts had been made to begin assistance to Catholic seafarers in Scotland in Glasgow as early as 1893, nothing was final until 1899 when the Jesuit Egger established a branch of the Sea Apostolate in the port of Clydeside.”
« Flyers with an entry form were printed in French, German, Italian and Spanish, in addition to English. More than two hundred thousand people enrolled in the Apostleship of the Sea during the eight years it was active in Glasgow (1899-1907). »
A road that led to the historic date of October 4, 1920, in which a small group of people gathered in the Scottish city and re-founded the Apostleship of the Sea. Alongside religious care (with the commitment to recite daily prayers and the obligation to receive communion at least once a year), moral and social assistance was introduced, through the visits to the ships in the ports, the distribution of Catholic literature and the establishment of recreation places for Catholic seafarers.
« Since then one hundred years have passed – Cardinal Turkson wrote – and this ministry has grown and has been adapting to the continuous transformations of the maritime industry, while remaining faithful to the initial mission of revealing Christ to those who sail aboard ships, and who work in deep waters, in order to lead them to a greater knowledge of Christ and his Church.”
Logo and prayer
The logo of the Apostleship of the Sea (also known as Apostolatus Maris or Apostleship of the Sea – AOS) contains the inscription Stella Maris and the image of an anchor (hope) combined with a life preserver (faith) with a heart (charity) in the center, light rays and the blue color of the sea. Stella Maris is the name by which the people of the sea turn to the Virgin Mary for protection. It has also long been the name by which the Apostolate is identified, blessed and encouraged by all the pontiffs.
« The vulnerability of seafarers, fishermen and seafarers – Benedict XVI said in his speech to participants at the XXIII World Congress in Rome – must make the Church’s concern more attentive and stimulate the maternal care that, through you, manifests to all those you meet in ports or on ships, or assist on board during long months of boarding.”
And also Pope Francis, during the Angelus of July 8, 2018: « I pray for them [seafarers and fishermen] and for their families, as well as for the chaplains and volunteers of the Apostleship of the Sea. » On Sea Sunday 2019, the Dicastery for service to integral human development has spread a special prayer of invocation to God, the infinite sea, to Jesus the Divine helmsman, to the Spirit that hovers over the waters and to the Virgin Stella Maris.
Furthermore, for the month of August 2020 the Apostleship of Prayer (to which the initial history of Stella Maris is linked) established that the universal intention of the Holy Father’s prayer is dedicated to the maritime world: « Let us pray for all the people who work and live by the sea, including seafarers, fishermen and their families.”