Stella Maris

Formerly known as Apostleship of the Sea, Stella Maris provides pastoral care services to seafarers when they arrive in Brisbane ports. Our Stella Maris team is dedicated to supporting this community of people who are separated for long periods of time from family and loved ones for their work.

Tending to the spiritual and pastoral care needs of seafarers is at the heart of Stella Maris’ work. The Stella Maris team visits seafarers on-board their vessels, and provides transport and onshore respite and pastoral support. The team also links seafarers with practical services including shopping opportunities and access to essential goods.

100 years of care

The Catholic Church’s ministry to seafarers around the world, Stella Maris (originally known as Apostleship of the Sea), began in Glasgow, Scotland in 1920. Today, Stella Maris is an international missionary network, caring for seafarers across the globe.

Pastoral care in a pandemic world

With international borders closed for almost two years and seafarers prohibited from coming ashore in any port in the world the, COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a humanitarian crisis on the seas. Seafarers endured hardship and deprivation through many months at sea, not knowing what would happen or how long it would be before they would be able to step on land, or see home and family once again.

During those times, when Australia’s borders remained closed, and seafarers were unable to disembark from ships and our team unable to go aboard, Stella Maris found other ways to support people. During the pandemic the team delivered more than 1500 care packages with essential supplies and some comforts to approximately 50 ships at Northside Wharf in Brisbane. These packs helped sustain seafarers during their long periods at sea.

In ordinary circumstances, at times of distress, such as when a member of a ship’s crew passes away whilst at sea, a part of the Stella Maris response would for an ordained priest to go onboard to celebrate Mass and provide blessings.  When borders were closed, rituals were offered from alongside the ship in its berth, with seafarers able to observe from a distance.