You Can Help
History and Organisation
Apostleship of the Sea is the Catholic Churchís
Missionary work to the seafarers whether they be on
merchant, passenger, war or fishing vessels. While the
Church has always been interested in seafarers since
Christ first gathered his fishermen-disciples around
him, the modern movement began in the 1890s with several
isolated and independent beginnings.
In 1891 the Apostolate of Prayer
first posted devotional magazines and books from
Wimbledon College to 12 ships and began enrolling
seafarers in this pious association. The seafarer
section eventually became known as the Apostleship of
Two years later, The Society of St.
Vincent de Paul commenced visiting seafarers in the
ports of Bristol, Sunderland, and Tyneside. In the same
year a Catholic Seafarersí Centre opened in Montreal Ė "
a snug little kingdom up two pairs of stairs"
In 1920, Catholic port ministry was
started and developed in Glasgow, Scotland, by
Archbishop Donald Macintosh, Arthur Gannon, and Peter
Anson, who were concerned about the lack of witness the
Church was showing aboard ship.
Two years later they approached Pope
Pius XI who bestowed his blessing on the ministry and
encouraged the Apostleship of the Sea to extend its
mission to the oceans and shores of all the hemispheres.
The Apostolic Constitution of 1952, "Exsul Familia"
raised the Apostolate from special work of the St.
Vincent de Paul to an official, missionary work of the
Church. Its headquarters moved to Rome.
In every major country, a Bishop
serves as the AOS Episcopal promoter, overseeing the
work of the national director. It is the directorís
responsibility to co-ordinate the individual chaplainís
efforts and to assist them in developing their
Additionally, the National Directorís
office serves as a communication centre which produces a
newsletter, establishes and maintains rapport with
organisations protecting the seafarerís interests, and
appeals to the dioceses for port chaplains.
Each country hosts an annual
conference. Tying all these national conferences
together is the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care
of Migrants and Itinerant People.
Because the Apostleship of the Seaís
"parishioners" move around the world, it is necessary
that their pastors be in touch with one another. The
World Congress held every five years (last one in
Gdynia, Poland, 2007) mandated by the Apostolatus Maris
office at Palazzo San Calisto, Vatican City, ensures
this connection between the countries, and updates and
disseminates the commissionís policies.