The Vatican Bishop charged with the pastoral care of seafarers visited the crew of the P&O Cruises ship Oceana this week, while it was docked in Civitavecchia, near Rome.
Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, from Catholic charity Apostleship of the Sea, presented Captain Christopher Bourne with the Apostleship of the Sea Crest.
A large number of the ship’s 890 officers and crew – many of them from Catholic countries such as the Philippines – joined the Bishop for a Mass conducted in the ship’s Footlights theatre.
Bishop Joseph, who is Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants, which coordinates the global activities of AoS, toured the 77,499-ton ship, and had lunch in the crew mess.
Fr Bruno Ciceri from AoS in Rome and Rev Roger Stone, AoS Port Chaplain in Southampton and the South Coast ports in Great Britain were also present.
Rev Roger said this visit underlined the Catholic Church’s unique care for seafarers through its network of port chaplains around the world and those who sail on P&O Cruises ships as cruise chaplains.
He said the unique partnership between P&O Cruises and Apostleship of the Sea is greatly valued by crew, who know the chaplain is someone they can turn to for pastoral, emotional and spiritual support.