The Catholic Church marks the 26th National Seafarers Sunday on Sept. 26 in honor of the sacrifices and hard work of Filipino seafarers.
The national celebrations will be held in Cebu to coincide with the 30th year of the Apostleship of the Seas -Stella Maris Cebu. Celebrations will also be held in the Archdioceses of Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Manila and Lipa and in the Dioceses of Balanga, Iba, Maasim, Tagbiliran,Talibon, and San Fernando in La Union.
Balanga Bishop and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Bishop Promoter of Stella Maris-Philippines Ruperto C. Santos said “Filipino seafarers are a gift to the world and to the Church.”
In a message, Bishop Santos referred to Filipino seafarers as “modern day heroes. Amid this deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the immense and valuable contributions of our resilient and courageous Filipino seafarers. They are indeed our essential service providers and economic front liners. Let us acknowledge the selfless services and sacrifices of our Filipino seafarers. Let us appreciate their diligence and discipline in their line of maritime work,” Santos said.
“Our seafarers give honor to our country with their dedication and discipline in their line of work,” he added.
The Church leader called for fair treatment to all seafarers.
“To provide decent living and just wage is to honor our seafarers. To assist them for the promotion of their rights and to protect them from one-sided contracts and from scrupulous employers is to give them the necessary honor and foster their personal esteem,” Santos said.
Santos, likewise, expressed his gratitude to all institutions that support the welfare of seafarers.
“Let us express our gratitude to the Apostleship of the Sea-Cebu Stella Maris Seafarers’ Center and all other chaplaincies for their pastoral care of our seafarers and their families and for honoring them as our modern day heroes. Our chaplains, religious sisters and especially pastoral workers in our different local Stella Maris-Philippines have over the years shepherd our seafarers, our fisher folks, and their families along the sea of life,” the bishop said.
“More than 90 percent of the world’s goods are transported by sea and labored by our seafarers. Our seafarers and fishermen bring healing when they sustain our essential needs,” Santos said.
Bishop Santos assured all Filipino seafarers of the Church’s support in their line of work.
“The Church and our national government agencies will always be there for them to protect and promote their rights and dignity; to safeguard their welfare and defend them against human traffickers and against abusive employers and unjust placement agencies,” he stressed.