Catholic Maritime Ministry of Mobile serving visitors for more than 70 years
By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
DAPHNE — For more than 70 years, the Catholic Maritime Ministry of Mobile have been a light for seafarers arriving in Mobile.
The Catholic Maritime Ministry of Mobile has shined that light in numerous ways, whether it’s by simply greeting and talking to arriving seafarers, providing them with material items or by giving them a ride to anywhere around town so they have a brief respite from their boat.
In recognition of the more than 70 years of service as well as to commence the 100-year anniversary of the worldwide Apostleship of the Sea ministry, Catholic Maritime Ministry chaplain Fr. Lito Capeding celebrated Mass Oct. 5 at Daphne’s Shrine of the Holy Cross Parish, where he serves as pastor. Ministry volunteers and supporters attended Mass and later enjoyed a barbecue after Mass.
According to Deacon John Archer, who assists in the ministry and delivered the homily Oct. 5, about 30,000 people a year come through the port on an annual basis.
“We have to be a light for them in whatever way,” Deacon Archer said. “Many of them on board are practicing Catholics and that light is shining out to them.”
The Apostleship of the Sea was established in Glasgow, Scotland, in October 1920 and the XXV World Congress of the ministry and centennial celebration is set for 2020 in Glasgow. The Apostleship of the Sea now has a global outreach in 261 ports, including Mobile, in 55 countries worldwide.
In order to help shine the light, the ministry looks to its patroness — Our Lady Star of the Sea.
“In seafaring through the ages, it’s important to have lights, to have stars, places to know where you’re going,” Deacon Archer said. “We use Mary as our model of keeping ourselves focused on Jesus and the way we should be going. She guides us in our ministry and she is supposed to guide us on how to be a light for others, kind of like a lighthouse.”
While it’s a worldwide ministry, it’s also evidence of the universal Church.
Deacon Archer estimated that between 30-40 percent of global seafarers are Filipino.
“But the crew the other day I met had Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, a little bit of everybody,” Deacon Archer said. “That’s kind of modern seafaring.”
It’s important to “welcome the stranger.”
“We don’t know them, we don’t recognize their faces, but they come to port everyday,” said Fr. Capeding, who has been chaplain since 2008.