Bishop Socrates Mesiona. (Photo from AVPP)

An apostolate dedicated to support seafarers through spiritual and practical means, recognizing their significant contributions and the unique challenges they face was launched on Thursday by the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa (AVPP).

The apostolic vicar of the AVPP, Bishop Socrates Mesiona, officiated a mass at the city’s Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral after the launch, stated a release posted on May 30 on the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

The CBCP said that in his homily, Bishop Mesiona emphasized the importance of seafarers, stating they hold a special place in the Christian faith and are highly-valued by the church.

He also acknowledged the specific difficulties that seafarers encounter, including prolonged separation from their families, exposure to unpredictable and often harsh weather conditions, and their vulnerability to exploitation due to the global nature of their work.

“As a Church, we must extend our care to them,” the CBCP quoted Mesiona as saying. “Let us pray for their well-being, seeking the intercession of the Blessed Mother, the Star of the Sea (Stella Maris).”

According to the CBCP, in April, Bishop Ruperto Santos of Stella Maris-Philippines, discussed with Bishop Mesiona the possibility of creating a center within the apostolic vicariate specifically for providing pastoral care to seafarers, fishers, and their families.

The center is envisioned to offer spiritual support and practical assistance tailored to the unique needs of these communities. Fr. Eugene Elivera, who coordinates the Committee on Migrants and Itinerant People, will be responsible for overseeing this new ministry focused on “pastoral care for the people of the sea.”