Roslyn Rajasingam's Posts

Source: Sea Sunday: Holy See reiterates closeness to seafarers – Vatican News

In a message marking the annual celebration of ‘Sea Sunday’, the Holy See reiterates the Church’s closeness to all people working at sea. On the second Sunday of July each year, Christian communities celebrate this important day to express their solidarity with people working at sea and to draw attention to their essential work and needs.

By Lisa Zengarini

Cardinal Michael Czerny, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, released a message on Monday to mark Sea Sunday on July 9.

The day, which is observed on the second Sunday of July each year, highlights the essential work over a million seafarers do throughout the year, drawing attention to their hardships and needs, and offers an opportunity for Christians to pray for them and their families.

Sea Sunday is not  reserved to seafarers

Indeed, thanks to these workers “our daily lives become possible and the economy is sustained”, the message remarks. “Yet we know hardly anything about them, about their faith, or about how they love and hope”. Many are forced to stay away from their loved ones and don’t even have access to spiritual services during their long months at sea. 

“The complex organisation of our society and a certain propensity to hide inequalities often leaves in the shadows the spiritual treasures and the material needs of humble people.”

The Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, therefore recalls that Sea Sunday is not reserved to seafarers, but “calls the attention of every Christian community to those thanks to whom we receive a great part of the goods that nourish us and that we use every day”. 

“To those who are at sea may this resounding, choral message reach you: the Church is near you. Whatever brings you joy and whatever oppresses you is close to our hearts.”

We walk together

However, the Church not only has something to give to seafarers, but also to receive from them: “We want also to receive your story, your testimonies, your point of view about work, about the economy, about the relations between religions and diverse cultures, about the conditions at sea and on the earth, and about faith”, Cardinal Czerny writes. “Your experience can reach and challenge all the members of the Church, and through them, our societies”.

“We are a synodal Church, in which we walk together. We should go forward together, navigating together, without leaving anyone behind, and enriching one another. No one should think that they have nothing to offer.”

Hence the Church’s commitment for this year’s celebration to renew efforts  to “get closer to each other in an ongoing exchange” that would make seafarers’ work “ less far from the daily experience and the faith of all”.

The message concludes by invoking the intercession of Mary, the Star of the Sea, and for her to be a “font of consolation and perseverance”

Listen to our report

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Brisbane Auxiliary Bishop Tim Norton SVD has been named the new Bishop Promoter for Stella Maris Australia, the local ministry of the international Catholic organisation that supports seafarers.

Bishop Norton’s pastoral ministry as a member of the Society of the Divine Word has been varied, including outreach to diverse members of the community, some on the fringes of society.

He said those who work in the oceans can also often be vulnerable.

“Stella Maris provides support to seafarers who regularly face the loneliness of being away from family and friends for long periods and the hardship of work on the ships,” Bishop Norton said.

“They can often be invisible, but our port chaplains and seafarers’ centres help them know that people care for them deeply.

“I am looking forward to working with the team towards a more just and peaceful life for sailors who are often working long hours under extremely difficult conditions, bringing goods and services to many parts of the world,” he said.

Stella Maris national director Roslyn Rajasingam welcomed Bishop Norton’s appointment as Bishop Promoter as the ministry emerges from the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic that curtailed seafarers’ movements.

“Stella Maris managers and chaplains had to adapt their methods of serving the pastoral and welfare needs of the seafarers that come into Australian ports during this time,” she said.

Mrs Rajasingam said the ministry has also been financially affected by the pandemic as churches were closed during the annual Sea Sunday fundraising campaigns and donations have been significantly reduced.

Stella Maris Australia is currently working with the Anglican ministry Mission to Seafarers and the Commonwealth Government to ensure a sustainable future for the operational and welfare services that support seafarers.

It is also preparing for local and international events to celebrate the work they undertake. An event in Glasgow, Scotland next month will commemorate the centenary of the Catholic Church’s ministry and affirm the dedication of those serving in ports around the world.

Stella Maris national committee chair Ray Collins paid tribute to Bishop Bosco Puthur, who served as Bishop Promoter for several years.

“Bishop Bosco was a strong advocate for those who work on the oceans and for providing leadership and support to those who minister to them,” Mr Collins said.

Bishop Timothy Norton SVD

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Every year, on the second Sunday of July, Christian communities around the world celebrate Sea Sunday to remind our communities on the essential work of more than a million seafarers.

In Australia, Stella Maris and other Christian providers of welfare services, encourage everyone to pray for the safety, good health and good working conditions for seafarers.

A few weeks ago, Ray Collins, Chair of the National Committee of Stella Maris, wrote to the Bishops of Australia to emphasise the important work of the seafarers in the provision of most of our daily needs and to obtain their support for the Sea Sunday appeal.

Sea Sunday Resources were distributed to the dioceses and parishes to assist them in celebrating Sea Sunday and in supporting the annual appeal. 

Cardinal Michael Czerny S.J., new Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, in his message for Sea Sunday on 10 July 2022 said:

“Now is the time to try and imagine seafarers’ life and the daily challenges they endure for us. Over recent years the maritime world has been hit by a series of crises. Increased demand for goods has led to more ships being held at anchorage for longer periods of time. The war in Ukraine means that ships now face the impossible task of navigating through the mines in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.”

Cardinal Czerny SJ pointed out: “The global pandemic meant that over 400,000 seafarers have been stuck on board, unable to leave the ship at the end of their contracts and return home to their families. Instead, they continue to work every day becoming increasingly exhausted. Replacement crews have been unable to join ships which has spelled economic disaster for some because they have been unable to provide for the daily needs of their loved ones.”

Marking this annual appeal, Roslyn Rajasingam, National Director of Stella Maris Australia, thanks seafarers for their hard work and perseverance even during a pandemic and asks Catholic communities “to pray for seafarers to have the strength to endure the harshness of the oceans and face their challenges in life.” Mrs Rajasingam added: “We also entrust to Mary, Star of the Sea, all Stella Maris chaplains, managers, volunteers and supporters who welcome and support the seafarers. May they continue to heed Jesus’ call to ‘go and do likewise.’”

Parishioners are invited to visit the Stella Maris website on to read the full message of Cardinal Czerny, learn more about this Catholic ministry and to donate to this national appeal.

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On 26 February, Saturday evening at around 9.00 pm, Lee-Anne Diano (Manager), Seamus Quinn (President) and June Villadolid (Ship Visitor), all from Stella Maris Melbourne, pulled off a co-ordinated task and vaccinated eleven (11) crew on the TSL Rosemary ship that docked at the Melbourne Port.

The event took days of preparation, endless phone calls and met many hurdles. Seamus recorded one hundred and eighteen (118) phone calls in the three (3) days prior to the vaccination campaign.

Approval from Border Force was only received the day before as they were waiting for the written approval from The Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria.

Seamus contacted Adam Reilly who was a commander at the Centre from The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing during the operation at the centre last year. Adam was on holidays but responded to Seamus’ plea by attempting to contact Jeroen Weinmar. He got hold of Brett Sutton who then referred the request to Dr Rachel Heenan, Senior Medical Outbreak Lead, Victorian Department of Health.

She then set out to get approval, with many conditions listed, one being that the crew needed to have Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) done prior to going down the gangway. Eleven (11) RATs were located from various sources.

During the day, Lee-Anne had to complete an on-line vaccination course to be able to administer the vaccines. This also cost the team a few hours of time. June prepared two buses with barricades, safety cones, trestles (some had to be bought  that day), PPE, water for the seafarers, chairs, lights, and other resources while still in contact with the Ship Captain and crew making sure they had their Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) numbers from Services Australia, and that MyGov registrations were ready. There were some issues due to the fact that some seafarers do not have permanent addresses and are using multiple names (some had four names listed).

The Captain was extremely helpful and co-ordinated the RATs on board with his crew. At the same time, Dr James Quinn drove to his clinic to prepare and draw the vaccines, making it easier for Lee-Anne, a Registered Nurse, to administer. He created a mobile vaccination pack, including resources to cater for any anaphylactic issues, sharp containers, needles and swabs.

During the day, face shields were purchased from a local chemist. Eventually, ‘all systems were go’ and the crew got their vaccines. Needless to say, the Captain and crew were delighted and could not thank Stella Maris Melbourne enough for their efforts.

After the task was complete, Dr Quinn (with the help of June) then started registering the seafarers’ vaccinations onto the Government website. He then made sure that the seafarers were going to get a printed copy of their vaccination Certificate. All the tasks were completed at around 11.20 pm.

Meanwhile, Dr Rachel Heenan will organise her Maritime team to work on a brief Vaccination Guidance document which the team can utilise in the future.

Roslyn Rajasingam, National Director of Stella Maris Australia, thanked the Stella Maris team in Melbourne for a job well done.

“At this point of the pandemic, when Australian citizens are being urged to take their boosters, thousands of seafarers are still waiting for a chance to get vaccinated in one of the ports they are visiting. These seafarers who have worked so hard during this pandemic to provide supplies have not been considered as key workers by several companies and governments. Stella Maris Melbourne has certainly assisted in easing the worries of some seafarers in the current situation.”  

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Ernest was born on 27 June 1926 in Merredin in the central West Australian wheatbelt.  He was one of 14 children and his mother had a café making scones, pies and sausage rolls while his father worked in a cordial factory.

When the family moved to Perth in 1936 Ernest and his brother Philip attended Clontarf Boys College run by the Christian brothers.  But their mother then suffered severe complications in childbirth that left her with paralysis down one side of her body.  Ernest and Philip returned home to help with their mother’s recovery.

Not long afterwards Ernest got his first job in a tiling factory, which allowed him to purchase his first push bike meaning he was able to go to night school for technical studies.

Ernest left home at the age of 14 and worked throughout the wheatbelt as a farm hand in places like Mingenew, Geraldton and Mullewa.  Later he accepted a job at Midland Junction where he was employed as an engine cleaner by Midland railway Company.  Ernest obtained a Fireman’s Certificate.

Ernest then joined the R.A.A.F starting his training at Claremont Barracks.  He enjoyed postings to Port Hedland, Pearce and Darwin. About this time, he met and married Peggy who was a hairdresser.

The young couple spent the War in Darwin where Ernest worked as an aircraft refueller and in maintenance roles.  When the War ended the couple stayed on at the barracks in Darwin.

When their first child Josie was born in 1947, they moved back to Western Australia where Ernest worked as a mechanic, fitter and turner for 12 years before they decided to return to Darwin.  Ernest then worked as the Lighthouse Keeper at Cape Don, north of Darwin.

Ernest then applied for the position as Officer in Charge at the East Arm Quarantine Station in Darwin.  It was at this time that Ernest started the Stella Maris Seafarers’ Centre for visiting seamen. He was still engaged in this work when Darwin was hit by Cyclone Tracy in 1974.  On 11 June 1984 Ernest was honoured with the Order of Australia Medal in recognition of his work for seafarers.

Returning to Western Australia, Ernest and Peggy took up residence in Albany where he worked in the parish and was ordained as a Permanent Deacon in 1991.

Once again, starting from scratch, Deacon Ernest started the Albany Stella Maris Seafarers’ Centre.  He was lucky to find a wonderful couple to assist him – David and Marilou Lomas.  Marilou carries on his work to this day.

Ernest retired but Peggy suffered a major stroke in 2009 and was lovingly cared for by her husband until her death in December 2011.  Ernest then moved to Perth to live first with his son Michael and later with David in Mandurah.

Ernest Carey passed away peacefully at Bethany Nursing Home on 15 December 2021.

On 30 December 2021 Bishop Gerard Holohan from Bunbury Diocese celebrated Holy Mass for Ernest at Our Lady’s Assumption Catholic Church.  Co-celebrant Father Chris Saminal travelled to Mandurah with Marilou Lomas and two Stella Maris volunteers.  Deacon Patrick Moore, from Stella Maris Fremantle, joined them to proclaim the Gospel. 

(Edited by Deacon Patrick Moore from a text written by Ernie’s daughter, Josie.)

Deacon Ernest Carey OAM

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Stella Maris Australia, a Catholic agency that provides spiritual and practical support to those working at sea, has joined an international coalition calling for better treatment of seafarers during the pandemic.

Stella Maris is one of hundreds of organisations that have signed up to the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change.

The Neptune Declaration calls for seafarers to be considered essential workers, and therefore have earlier access to COVID-19 vaccines, as well as for better practices to facilitate changes of crew.

It also seeks greater collaboration between maritime and aviation industries, in partnership with governments, to manage the transportation and deployment of seafarers to ports where they are needed.

Stella Maris has, on several occasions, raised concerns about the welfare of seafarers during the pandemic. They have included the expiration of contracts for some workers, the inability for seafarers to disembark at ports and the mental and physical health challenges seafarers face.

Those issues are among the ones the Neptune Declaration raises. Despite efforts from unions, governments, industry groups, employers and non-governmental organisations and a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, key issues remain unresolved.

“This is not an acceptable way to treat seafarers, who are the frontline workers of the maritime industry carrying 90 per cent of global trade,” the Neptune Declaration states.

“Fatigue after extended periods at sea has significant consequences on the physical and mental wellbeing of seafarers.”

Stella Maris Australia national director Roslyn Rajasingam said in addition to international advocacy, the organisation is also supporting local efforts to approach the Australian Government. In particular, the Government will be asked to help solve the global crisis by designating seafarers as key workers.

“Almost 70 countries have taken that step, recognising what critical work seafarers are already undertaking and the important role they will play during and beyond the pandemic,” Mrs Rajasingam said.

“Australia’s location makes our reliance on the delivery of goods by sea greater than many countries, which underlines the need for this long overdue step to be taken by the Commonwealth Government.”

Click here to access the Neptune Declaration.

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The current pandemic has severely affected our Stella Maris services to the seafarers that arrive on our shores. Our Chaplains and Managers have not been allowed to visit ships. They also have not been allowed to pick up seafarers on our buses so they can be transported to our centres where they can relax, play games, play music or use our internet and computers.

It is even more challenging for all seafarers around the world who are not allowed to disembark ships to enjoy shore leave nor to travel home at the end of their contracts.

However, our Chaplains and Managers have found creative ways and means to reach out to the seafarers to assist them during this time of Covid-19. They have been ready and willing to procure supplies for seafarers and other necessary resources and services to ease the difficulty they are experiencing while sailing for long periods.

Among other things, the crew of cargo ships and cruise ships have been provided with care packs in most of our ports to let them know that we are still here to assist them, pray for them and care for them while they are on our shores, albeit, unable to physically visit our centres.

Here are some Media Releases of Diocesan newspapers and ACBC Media Blog that describe the work of our Stella Maris Centres and Chaplaincies during this time of the pandemic:

3 July 2020: (Stella Maris Adelaide)

3 July 2020: (Stella Maris Mackay)

26 June 2020: (Stella Maris Sydney)

26 June 2020: (Stella Maris Brisbane)

11 June 2020: (Stella Maris Fremantle)

12 May 2020: (Donations Drive)

4 May 2020: (Mass for AoS Chaplains, Volunteers, Managers)

27 April 2020: (A Nun)

24 April 2020: (Ruby Princess)

INTERNATIONAL Apostleship of the Sea – Stella Maris:

27 April 2020: (Cruise Industry and On Ruby Princess)

15 April 2020: (Stella Maris supports seafarers on the Covid-19 front line)

8 April 2020: (Pope Francis + Pandemic + Conversion)

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Pope Francis has been busy this year hosting Bishops from many Bishops Conferences around the world. He also travelled to half a dozen countries including the United Arab Emirates, which made him the first Pope to visit an area in the Arabian Peninsula. He also had many meetings, audiences and visits within the Vatican, around Rome and within Italy. And this is only the middle of the year!

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When I visited our seafarers’ centres and chaplaincies in the eastern seaboard of the country, it was obvious that most of our ship visitors, Chaplains, managers and volunteers were in their senior years. It was impressive to watch their generosity and deep concern for seafarers from all over the world. They were real signs of God’s presence in our ports.

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