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Participants in the Stella Maris Australia national conference (ACBC)

Port chaplains, managers, volunteers and members of the Stella Maris Australia committee gathered in Sydney last week for the first national conference of its type in several years for those ministering to seafarers. Source: ACBC Media Blog.

Eighteen people attended the event at Mary MacKillop Place, with the theme “Together: United in Caring for Seafarers”. 

While there had been joint gatherings with Stella Maris New Zealand and representatives of the Anglican Ministry to Seafarers group in 2019, 2020 and 2022, this was the first Stella Maris Australia conference in many years. As a result, there was significant discussion about the current state of port chaplaincy, which was severely affected by COVID-19. 

There was also a session to assist chaplains in identifying mental health issues in the people to whom they minister, and how to seek the right care for them.

A site visit to the Port of Botany Bay introduced participants to the work of Stella Maris at one of the country’s largest container ports, showcasing the work of long-time chaplain Sr Mary Leahy RSJ and her collaborators.

About half of the conference was dedicated to the spiritual aspects of port chaplaincy, with The Mission of the Seventy from Luke’s Gospel the central Scripture passage guiding those reflections.

Bishop Tim Norton SVD, Bishop Promoter of Stella Maris in Australia, and Stella Maris national director Roslyn Rajasingam took time during the conference to participate in an international consultation with representatives of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

“Aside from having an in-person networking event, the conference was an opportunity to review the welfare service provision of Stella Maris Australia in a fast-changing maritime industry and how the Catholic Church can practise effective pastoral care in the ports,” Mrs Rajasingam said.

Bishop Norton, who provided the conference’s spiritual input, said the faith dimension is central to the ministry.

“Getting back to basics with Scripture and Tradition is central to what carries this ministry forward,” he said.


Prayer, planning underpin national Stella Maris gathering (ACBC Media Blog)