Celebrating creation and seafarers

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - September 26, 2020 - 12:00am

September 1, declared by Pope Francis as World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation to encourage “the world’s 2.2 billion Christians around the world to come together to pray and care for our common home,” also starts the month-long celebration of the Season of Creation which ends by October 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the beloved patron saint of ecology.

The Season of Creation is an ecumenical season dedicated to prayer for the protection of creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles.

The World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, inspired by Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical calls all to “reaffirm [our] personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which He has entrusted to our care, and to implore His help for the protection of creation, as well as His pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”

September 27, the last Sunday of September is officially the National Day of Seafarers and also the 13th year anniversary of the Stella Maris Seafarers’ Center. This day celebrates and acknowledges the vital role of seafarers for their families, for their countries and the whole world.

This year’s celebration centers on the theme: “Seafarers are key workers: You are not forgotten, you are not alone.” The pandemic, and most especially the fate of 40 seafarers on board the Gulf Livestock 1 ship which sank 100 nautical miles (185 km) west of Amami Oshima Island in southwest Japan last September 12 due to Typhoon Maysak, has tempered this year’s celebration for all seafarers.

Last September 23, the religious officials of the various Apostleship of the Sea-Stella Maris centers throughout the Philippines (Manila, Cagayan de Oro, Batangas, La Union, Cebu, Bohol, Iloilo, Maasin, Gen Santos and Iligan released this statement:

“In the spirit of the 22nd National Maritime Week and the 25th National Seafarers’ Day Celebration (Silver Jubilee), we, at the Apostleship of the Sea-Stella Maris Philippines, remember with prayerful hearts the 40 seafarers lost at sea from the maritime shipping disaster of Gulf Livestock 1 on September 2, 2020. We have not forgotten them. Hence, we are making a direct and strong appeal to the ship owner Gulf Navigation Holding to resume the searching and support their respective families in every possible way. Likewise, we are making an urgent appeal to the Philippine Government to extend any assistance and/or to act on behalf of the heartbroken families to request the neighboring countries in conducting search and rescue within their scope of waters and islands. We have not lost hope and we hold on to God, relying on His mighty power for miracles. Jesus said in the Bible, “Courage! Don’t be afraid. It’s me!” (Matthew 14:27). We continue to pray that others may have somehow survived this tragic incident. Our thoughts and heartfelt empathy go out to all the family members and friends who are anticipating good news at home.”

At the Stella Maris Seafarers Center at Cebu port area, everyone is invited to join this daily afternoon schedule of prayers: 4:00 - 5:00 motorcade procession of the Image of Stella Maris, Rosary/novena at 5:00 - 5:30 Rosary/Novena and Holy Mass from 5:30 - 6:30.

On September 27, Sunday 6:00 a.m., a Memorial at Sea and Wreath Laying Ceremony for dead seafarers in partnership with the Philippine Coastguard Central Visayas will be held. Holy Mass with Fr. Bobby Mangonon, chaplain of the Philippine Coast Guard Central Visayas, will start at 10 a.m., followed, at 11, by a “Short tribute to Filipino Seafarers” and gift giving to seafarers on board at 1 p.m.

Prayerfully celebrating with all God’s creation and all seafarers!


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