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AoS chaplain: Immingham port's human face
01st September 2015
Fr Colum Kelly, Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) port chaplain in Immingham is featured in an article by Tom Lamont in The Observer titled Mission Impossible? Meet the new chaplains. The article follows a report from Theos. Here is an extract from article.
"....Kelly has set himself up, amid the cranes and building-high container stacks, as Immingham’s human face. Recently he had to settle a borderline revolution on board a ship when a crew fell out with its employers over contract terms. He has helped with cases of “unpaid wages, bad food, bullying” and says he can only wonder about the unresolved situations on ships he doesn’t get a chance to climb aboard.
Kelly has been a chaplain at Immingham for over a decade and even on a good day, he explains, it would not be possible for him to see even half the people who might want or need it. There are simply too many ships. “You target where you think you might be most needed.”
If crews have time, they disembark and are shown by Kelly to internet-connected computers he has set up in a room on the dock. If they’re due for a quicker turnaround, Kelly darts on board what ships he can. As a Catholic minister, he will perform rituals if he’s asked, but he says that only about half of the seafarers he encounters are religious, “missing the church connection”. Most, he says, are simply missing people.
He passes on a particularly harrowing story about a ship that came in from America early in the year. It was bound for Finland, manned by a Filipino crew. “A happy bunch. They’d got all the supplies on, everything was good – and then we suddenly discovered there was a change of orders. Instead of going to Finland, they were going to the west coast of Africa, where the Ebola was rife. They were in a state, they were screaming. Trying to get off the ship. A situation like that… they’re desperate.” Kelly listened. Tried to soothe. Then watched them go.
Many of his days as a chaplain are more ordinary than that, says Kelly. He echoes what I’ve come to see as the mantra of the modern chaplain: that if you’re not bored sometimes, you’re not doing it properly. Being present is everything. At that point “you try and do what you can,” says Kelly, “to bring some goodness into crap situations” And then he goes, to board another boat."
* To read the full article go to http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/30/mission-impossible-meet-the-new-chaplains
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