MOBILE, Alabama — With the aid of the Apostleship of the Sea, Deacon John Archer, port chaplain of the Archdiocese of Mobile, has been providing pastoral and practical support for the crew of a cargo ship detained in the Port of Mobile for months.
The Trans Gulf has been prevented from sailing since March 2016 after “it was found to have deficiencies,” including electrical problems, according to a news release from the apostleship.
Archer received a call in December 2017 from someone concerned about the well-being of the crew.
He found that crew members’ food supplies were running low and that they were not being paid in full. He began to visit them weekly, arranged for Catholic Social Services in the Mobile Archdiocese to deliver food until they received money to buy food, and arranged for transportation to Mass.
He also gave them Bibles and other spiritual books and found them a means of transportation so that they could shop for goods and go to community events.
“All this helped raise their spirits so that they did not feel like they are in prison on the ship,” the deacon said.
A new crew is currently aboard the ship, but the previous crew members are still waiting to receive their full wages. They are owed $35,000 in wages.
“We will continue to work with the North American Maritime Ministry Association to ensure the seafarers’ interests are represented,” Archer said.
The Apostleship of the Sea, which was founded in 1920 in Glasgow, Scotland, aims to meet the spiritual needs of seafarers, who are away from their home parishes for long periods of time.
The apostleship’s U.S. arm is part of the office of Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church.