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Sea Sunday 2023: Celebrating the People of the Sea

Updated: Jul 7, 2023


Sea Sunday 2023: Celebrating the People of the Sea


Sea Sunday is a day in which the Catholic church and other churches come together to pray and celebrate the role of seafarers, fishers, and all people of the sea. It is an opportunity to thank and show them our appreciation for their vital role in our lives. It is observed on the last Sunday of July; this year, it falls on July 9.



Attending to the seafarers’ needs and concerns since the XVI century, the Catholic Church has ministered to the people of the sea in different ways. But it was in May 1893 that the first Catholic seamen’s clubs were in Montreal, followed by London in September 1893. Soon after, other ports began to follow. In Glasgow, a team of ship visitors created by the Jesuit Fr. Joseph Egger this initiative began in 1899. During this period, Saint John Baptist Scalabrini, then bishop of Piacenza, diligently advocated for the pastoral care of migrants, providing assistance during their voyage. Foreseeing the need to accompany, protect, and care for them, Saint Scalabrini founded the St. Raphael Society in 1889. He envisions this lay association committing themselves to help the missionaries and the migrants during the sea voyage and the settlement project across the ocean while taking into their heart the moral, physical, intellectual, economic, and civic well-being of those crossing the seas.


The Gospel reading for Sea Sunday is Matthew 11:25-30. In this passage, Jesus says,

"I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will."


This passage is a reminder of the importance of those who are often "overlooked". Seafarers and fishers are often seen as "invisible", but they play a vital role in the global economy. They transport goods and people around the world, they keep our supply chains running. They play a vital role in our global food system, they catch fish that we eat, and they also provide jobs and income for millions of people around the world.

On Sea Sunday, let us take a moment to reflect on the importance of seafarers and fishers. Let us thank them for their hard work and dedication and pray for their safety and well-being.


The Importance of Seafarers and Fishers


Seafarers contribute significantly to the global economy by moving about 90% of the goods in the world. They currently represent 0.02% of the world population, but they are vital in keeping our world connected.


Seafarers and fishers come from around the world and work long hours under challenging conditions.

They often have to be away from their families for months and face many challenges, including loneliness, homesickness, and discrimination.


Fishers also face many challenges. They often work in dangerous conditions, and they are exposed to harsh weather and pollutants. They also face competition from industrial fishing fleets, and they often have to fish in areas that are becoming increasingly depleted.


Despite these challenges, seafarers and fishers are essential to our global economy and food system. They keep our supply chains running and help ensure that we have the goods and services we need.


The Scalabrinian Mission to People of the Sea

The Scalabrinian mission to seafarers and fishers is inspired by the vision of Saint John Baptist Scalabrini, known as the "Father to the migrants." Saint Scalabrini is the first Italian Bishop to cross the sea to visit the migrants. Foreseeing the need for specific pastoral care for the people of the sea, Scalabrini required his missionaries to accompany them during the sea voyage, which was dangerous, long, and in need of a lighthouse. Therefore, it was in his heart the pastoral care of the people of the sea. He envisioned the care of migrants from the point of origin (Italy), during the sea journey (Chaplain), to the point of arrival (Americas). Thirty-four (34) years after the Scalabrinian Congregation was born (Nov 28, 1887), Stella Maris was born in Glasgow, Scotland (Oct 4, 1921) as the Church’s pastoral response for the people of the sea.



The Scalabrinian missionaries have been ministering to people on the move for over 130 years. They provide pastoral care to seafarers in fourteen (14) ports around the world (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe), caring for seafarers, fishers, and their respective families, consequently remaining faithful to the original vision of Saint John Baptist Scalabrini, by committing themselves to the moral, physical, and spiritual needs of the people of the sea.


In the pastoral service to the people of the sea, the Scalabrinians contribute to the Church’s apostolic zeal by becoming bridges that welcome, protect, promote, and integrate the people on the move.



How to Celebrate Sea Sunday?


There are many ways to celebrate Sea Sunday.

Here are a few recommendations from SMSN:


No matter how you choose to celebrate Sea Sunday, let us all take a moment to remember the importance of the people of the sea.


Let us be bridges that welcome, protect, promote, and integrate the people of the sea.

We hope this article encourages you to reflect on the importance of seafarers and all people of the sea. Let us all work together to support and advocate for the welfare of the people of the sea.







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