Stella Maris UK held a reception for its supporters, donors, and members of the clergy on board the HQS Wellington, on September 8th.
After a couple of years of not being able to gather together on this special venue, it was good to see so many familiar faces and meet new people.
The event began on a sombre note, as we received the sad news of the passing of Her Majesty the Queen.
Bishop of the Armed Forces and Stella Maris trustee, Bishop Paul Mason led us in prayer and silent reflection as all those gathered kept the Queen and her family in our thoughts and prayers.
This was followed by an update about our work from our Chair of Trustees Captain Esteban Pacha.
Guest of honour, Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, the Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Holy Family of London, gave a moving talk about the situation in Ukraine, and thanked Stella Maris chaplains and ship visitors for their continued support for Ukrainian seafarers, fishers, and their families.
He recognised the good work being done by our Fr Alex Smerechynskyy, National Director Stella Maris Ukraine, and port chaplain in Odesa, and assistant port chaplain Rostik Inzhestoikov, who have set up a soup kitchen there, and are getting urgent supplies to stranded crews, as well as providing pastoral and material support to Ukrainian families.
In Poland, a Stella Maris centre is being used to provide emergency accommodation for refugees, thanks to our Polish National Director Fr Edward Pracz.
A short and informative impact video was shown to attendees about how their support and donations were making a real difference to the many seafarers, fishers and families caught up in the war.
Guests were then treated to drinks and canapes on the upper deck of the ship, concluding a wonderful evening.