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WASHINGTON— In observance of the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and people of the Sea, a Mass will be celebrated May 22 at 12:10 PM at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (in the Crypt Church). The Mass is sponsored by the Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) and the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington will be the main celebrant and homilist.
The National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea, was declared by the U.S. bishops in November 2005 to encourage U.S. Catholics to support, remember and pray for merchant mariners/seafarers, fish workers, port personnel and others in the maritime community and is observed in conjunction with the National Maritime Day in the United States.
This year, the observance takes on a special significance in light of what is going on at the Gulf of Mexico. Bishop J. Kevin Boland, episcopal promoter of the Apostleship of the Sea exhorted everyone “in a special way to remember those who lost their lives at sea and their respective families, and those who perished in the oil rig explosion in the Gulf Coast as well as those whose livelihoods are deeply affected by this tragedy.” He also asked people to pray that “the efforts of all involved prevent further marine pollution.”
Bishop Boland encourages Catholic dioceses to mark the fifth national day of prayer and remembrance by means of special petitions in the prayer of the faithful, homilies, or a votive Mass using the text for the Mass of the Blessed Virgin, Mary Star of the Sea.
Expected to attend this year’s Maritime Day Mass at the National Shrine are Maritime Administration officials, the Philippines Consul General, the Secretary of Transportation of the Commonwealth of Virginia, representatives from the shipping and fishing communities, the Coast Guard, the National Transportation Safety Board, mariners and family members.
The International Maritime Organization has declared 2010 as ‘Year of the Seafarer.’ World Maritime Day is celebrated on the last Thursday of September to pray for the men and women involved in seafaring and their families. The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People issues a “Sea Sunday” message every year.
Apostleship of the Sea is a worldwide Catholic maritime ministry for the spiritual and practical assistance to seafarers, fisher folks, their families and all those who work and travel by sea and the waterways. In the USA, AOS chaplains and their team are present in 49 dioceses in 61 maritime ports. Their ministry also includes coordinating a cruise ship priest program.
Ninety percent of the world’s goods are transported by sea and the waterways. There are approximately 1.5 million seafarers worldwide in 10,000 commercial ships and maritime vessels.
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