In many seaside towns around the country, Catholic parishioners are busy packing shoeboxes with donated gifts and wrapping them in festive paper. It has become a tradition to give these Christmas boxes to seafarers visiting our ports from all around the world, giving them some seasonal cheer when far from their homes and families.
The boxes are delivered by Apostleship of the Sea, whose Chaplains and volunteer ship visitors also help the seafarers – many of whom are Catholics from the Philippines, India and Eastern Europe – to get to Christmas services. Loneliness is a big problem for seafarers, usually away from home 9 months or more each year, so AoS offers friendship and prayer as well as gifts and practical help.
The picture shows some wonderful parishioners of St Patrick’s Church in Leicester, who handed over a grand total of 156 shoeboxes to Fr Colum Kelly, AoS port chaplain at Immingham in Lincolnshire. This is the eighth year that they have done this!