Have you ever taken a cruise? Did you talk with the staff onboard? Did you learn that most are far from home and family working to send money back for school tuition and life necessities? Cruise ship workers are honest, hard working men and women spending months at sea to take care of their loved ones. They have taken care of you but who has been taking care of them, especially during the pandemic? Who offers them hope and prays for their safety?
AOS-USA (Apostleship of the Sea of the United States of America) has been there for the cruise ship workers since 2003. The office screens, approves and places Catholic Priests onboard over 550 cruises a year. These priests provide Mass, pastoral care, counseling, etc. to the workers and passengers on cruises. The participating cruise lines pay for this service to their ships which provides salary and benefits to the office staff.
Of course, Covid has suspended the cruises but workers are still onboard to maintain the ships in good working order for when cruising returns. Many workers have been stranded for months. Other workers are stuck at home unable to return to work. AOS-USA continues to offer hope and prayers for these workers. The priests take turns each week Celebrating Mass for the weekend, which is posted to Facebook and Youtube. The priests are available to chat online, or by phone, to provide counseling, or just a friendly listening ear on the other side. Such efforts are coordinated through the office but without payment from the cruise lines.
More than ever cruise ship workers need hope and support. If you have ever taken a cruise, you can help now. Support AOS-USA during this time of global pandemic. This will enable us to help give hope to the workers and to resume scheduling Catholic priests onboard when cruising returns.