Archdiocese’s maritime ministry receiving $10,000 from Catholic Extension
By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
MOBILE — Arriving seafarers to the Port of Mobile will get further support from the Catholic Maritime Ministry of Mobile.
Deacon John Archer, who helps coordinate the archdiocese’s ministry, was one of 11 finalists for Catholic Extension’s 2019-20 Lumen Christi award. As a finalist, Deacon Archer received $10,000 to support the maritime ministry.
Catholic Extension raises and distributes funds to support U.S. mission dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Mobile, and the Lumen Christi is the highest honor bestowed by Catholic Extension.
“You’re kind of in awe,” Deacon Archer said. “It was an honor to be recognized for what you’re doing and it’s been nice to have the ministry recognized for the work it is doing.”
Mack McCarter of the Diocese of Shreveport was this year’s winner.
The Archdiocese of Mobile routinely nominates a candidate who “demonstrates how the power of faith can transform lives and communities.”
According to Deacon Archer, funds provided by Catholic Extension will help provide items for seafarers.
“I want to talk to our advisory board, but we want to make sure we have the things to bring seafarers when they come to port. Rosaries, having supplies … ” Deacon Archer said. “This will go a long way.”
Deacon Archer was assigned to the Catholic Maritime Ministry when he moved from the Diocese of Oakland (Calif.) to Mobile about two years ago.
Before working with the ministry, he had little experience working with seafarers.
“To their conditions and to how hard they work, it’s been an eye-opener,” Deacon Archer said. “It’s all new. But it does feed my business background. You’re dealing with business and economy, but you’re dealing with people. My ministerial side is drawn to it. It’s been such a blessing for me and I knew nothing about it.”
He added: “I see a vessel going by in and out of the port. Not just a vessel. There’s 20 lives on it.”
Seafaring workers can spend up to nine months at sea and come from all corners of the world.
“I love it when they say Mobile is a good port,” Deacon Archer said.
Sometimes the ministry calls for simply being there and listening to the seafarers’ plights.
Recently, Deacon Archer said a seafarer from the Philippines talked to him.
“He said: ‘I think my brother wants to be a priest, but I’m not that good.’
“So I got him a little simple prayer book in Tagalog and said ‘take this, put it on your nightstand and don’t discount yourself. You’re blessed in ways your brother isn’t.’ So (in this ministry) you get little moments like that.
“It’s a presence ministry. Let the Holy Spirit do the work.”
With assistance from area parishes, the ministry will also be present during Christmas. Coordinated by St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Mobile, the ministry will deliver small gifts to seafarers during Christmas.
Along with St. Vincent de Paul, parishes collecting items include Shrine of the Holy Cross in Daphne; St. John in Bromley; St. John in Grand Bay; Cathedral Parish, Corpus Christi, St. Dominic, Our Savior and St. Catherine of Siena parishes in Mobile; St. Lawrence Parish in Fairhope; as well as the Filipino community in the archdiocese.
“They’re away from home at Christmas, they’re away from land,” Deacon Archer said. “Last year we gave them shirts that says where we are. And they’re so wonderful and so thankful. They say ‘thank you for thinking of us.’ ”