The Catholic charity giving hope and support to seafarers
For Sea Sunday, Deacon Joseph O'Donnell (main picture, left), a port chaplain, explains the vital work of the Apostleship of the Sea, a Catholic charity that helps seafarers from across the world who come to our shores...
"On Friday, I met a woman called Bella.
She is the cook aboard a Russian ship that is currently being detained at the port in Leith. It's been there for over two weeks now.
Bella speaks no English. She, and her fellow crew members are stuck here, far from home. It's an unpleasant situation, to say the least.
I have been visiting this vessel in my role as Port Chaplain for Apostleship of the Sea. We are a Catholic charity that gives spiritual and practical support to seafarers.
Thanks to the translation skills of the chaplain, I was able to communicate with Bella. She told me food supplies were low so we arranged, with the captain's blessing, a trip to Lidl to replenish their larder.
That's one of the small, practical steps the Apostleship of the Sea can take to make life a little better for seafarers - strangers to our shore.
This weekend we celebrate Sea Sunday. We hear one of the most popular parables in the Gospel of Luke, the story of the Good Samaritan. A parable about showing mercy and compassion to a stranger.
The Apostleship of the Sea appeal helps the invisible strangers from across the world who grace our shores here in Scotland.
Without seafarers, the global economy would come to a standstill. An incredible 95 per cent of our household goods are transported by ships across oceans.
So when the seafarer - or stranger - comes to our shores here in Scotland and in this Archdiocese - at various points along the Firth of Forth, the Apostleship of the Sea supports them.
Many experience loneliness, home sickness and mental health issues.
There can also be pay and conditions issues, and even human trafficking, especially in the fishing industry. It happens here, in Scotland. In our Archdiocese.
How do we help? We meet them on board their vessel; we listen to them, we offer spiritual support. That's part of our pastoral care.
We help practically - to provide food, access to email (there's often no internet on vessels) and point them in the direction of agencies which can help them.
This Sea Sunday, I ask you to imitate the good Samaritan - a parable told by Jesus - and give what you can at the second collection at Mass.
More importantly, pray for those who work on the oceans, far from home."
Please support the Apostleship of the Sea this Sea Sunday, 14th July. Find out more here.