By Vatican News staff reporter
At a time when seafarers are facing the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, Stella Maris is launching new chaplaincy services in Denmark.
According to the charity’s European Regional Coordinator, Martin Foley, “Now more than ever we need to be present and visible to seafarers and fishers, and while faced with restrictions due to the health crisis, our work supporting seafarers and fishers continue through ship gangway ministry and the use of digital media to support their faith and pastoral needs.”
This month Deacon David Noval takes up his new role as National Director of Stella Maris’ Danish mission.
Denmark is the fifth largest maritime nation, with a merchant fleet of 65 million gross tonnes. The country has more than 400 islands and a total coastline of over 7,000 kilometres. Up to 75 percent of all imports to Denmark arrives by sea.
The new National Director says ship and port visiting have already begun in Copenhagen, and the plan this year is to establish teams of ship visitors covering other ports in the country.
“Within the next five years we want to have chaplains based in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Danish archipelago, including Greenland and the Faroe Islands,” he adds.
Pope Francis and seafarers
The charity notes that, throughout the pandemic, “Pope Francis has on several occasions expressed the Church’s concern for seafarers and fishers. In December, the Holy Father voiced his concern for stranded seafarers affected by the crew change crisis brought about by Covid-19 restrictions and urged governments to do all they can to repatriate them.”
In June, the Pope sent a video message of encouragement to seafarers, acknowledging the difficulties they face as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.