Fr David Gamble, parish priest of Our Lady of Victories in Hightown and Holy Family Ince Blundell, was thrilled to be part of Cunard's recent 175th anniversary celebrations.
Fr David, who is a cruise chaplain with seafarers' charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS), sailed on board the Queen Mary 2 on its recent British Isles voyage where the ship met the other two Queens in Liverpool on 25 May.
Fr David, who was born and raised in Liverpool, was on the ship to give pastoral support to its 1,000 crew. "I joined the ship at Southampton and was there to support the crew. Everyone else on board expects something of the crew but my main duty as an AoS cruise chaplain was to assist the crew, to offer them the sacraments as well as friendship and a listening ear.
"Many of them come from countries like the Philippines, India and eastern Europe and have been at sea for months, away from family, and their contracts can be for as long as nine months. Due to their busy schedules, many are unable to receive the sacraments regularly. I was able to celebrate mass on board which they truly appreciated. The presence of a chaplain offers them comfort, someone they can trust and speak to in confidence," said Fr David.
The chance to be aboard the Queen Mary 2 and participate in Cunard's celebrations was an exciting one for him. "It was a real honour and privilege for me, a Liverpool-born and bred lad, to be part of this experience," added Fr David. "Cruise chaplaincy ministry is an amazing one and one that is truly appreciated by many seafarers and cruise ship crew."
Fr David is no stranger to cruise chaplaincy, having previously sailed on Queen Elizabeth 2 from 1996 to 2002. He has struck up many friendships with crew encountered during his ministry and is still in touch with many of them. Cruise chaplaincy is part of AoS's broader work of supporting seafarers working on merchant and fishing vessels and also their families back home. AoS is a registered charity and agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. It relies on voluntary donations, including the annual Sea Sunday collection in parishes, to continue its work.
Further information about this can be found at www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk/cruise-chaplaincy
For more details on Sea Sunday, celebrated on 12 July, see http://apostleshipofthesea.org.uk/sea-sunday