July 11 is Sea Sunday: a day each year for people to pray and give thanks for those who earn their livings from and on the sea. An estimated 90 per cent of goods on our store shelves are there through the efforts of crews aboard ships who often spend months at sea weathering storms and working long, physical hours for relatively low pay and little vacation.
Services to seafarers have become more crucial, and more difficult, during the COVID pandemic. With isolation protocols, crews can be stranded on board ship unable to replenish supplies or communicate with their families back home. This past April, Strait area businesses and communities provided donations of winter hats and other essentials to crew aboard a quarantined oil tanker near Port Hawkesbury.
“Given the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in, this gesture of kindness and your gifts today, not only raises morale but makes us all realize that there are those ashore who understand the role we play and more importantly care about the position we now find ourselves in,” the vessel captain wrote in a thank you letter. (See his letter in the Summer 2021 newsletter of Mission to Seafarers-Halifax, page 3)
This Sea Sunday, as COVID protocols encourage us to celebrate privately or in small groups, we can:
Support aid to seafarers through local or international mission organizations
such as Mission to Seafarers or Stella Maris, a Catholic charity supporting seafarers, fishers, and their families in the UK and around the world.
Remember fishers and seafarers in our prayers.
Let us pray for all who govern us, that God may grant them wisdom and compassion. We pray today that governments and international bodies may enact and enforce laws that promote the welfare of seafarers and fishers, whose rights and dignity are too often overlooked.
This is the year of St Joseph, who Pope Francis in ‘Patris corde’ describes as ‘a working father, a father in the shadows’. Let us pray for all those who labour unseen, especially for those seafarers whose toil on far-off oceans is vital and yet so rarely noticed, as they work hard to transport the world’s goods and to provide income for their own families.
Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs to anoint sick people with oil and cure them. Let us pray for all those who are sick, for those who have been injured in accidents onboard ships, for those who are ill- treated and frightened at sea or on land.
We remember all seafarers and fishers and their families and ask God to comfort those who feel lonely and far from loved ones.
We pray for all those who have died, especially members of our own family and community, and for all those lost at sea.
Father, in your mercy, accept the prayers we make for ourselves and our neighbours, especially those who work at sea. We make our prayer through Christ, our harbour of peace. Amen