Stella Maris global network update April 2023

Here are some recent updates showcasing the excellent work being done by some of our international Stella Maris colleagues.

Stella Maris Canada – New port chaplain appointed in Montreal

We warmly welcome Deacon Benjamin Ripley (in picture below) to our wider Stella Maris global family. He has been appointed as the new Montreal port chaplain in Canada by the Archbishop of Montreal, Christian Lépine, in early March 2023,

Benjamin is already well-groomed to start his role, having attended in 2022 the NAMMA-Stella Maris Houston training course; the NAMMA annual conference in Baltimore, and Stella Maris North America symposium in Washington DC; and the Stella Maris Global Convention in Glasgow – all prior to his Ordination as a Franciscan Friar to the (Transitional) Diaconate in October 2022.  He has also been apprenticing with Dcn Paul Racette, Stella Maris chaplain at Trois Rivieres for the past two years – and will continue his part-time participation in this port not far from Montreal. 

Benjamin was born in 1974 and raised in the West Elgin region of southwestern Ontario, Canada. In his young adult years, he mainly worked as a factory production worker in the automotive parts manufacturing sector. He also served ten years in the Canadian Armed Forces – three years as an Army Reservist, and seven years as a sailor in the Royal Canadian Navy.

After leaving the Royal Canadian Navy, Benjamin discerned a vocation to religious life and joined the Franciscan Friars of Canada (Ofm)-Holy Spirit Province in 2009. As a lay brother, he trained in areas of chaplaincy such as hospital and prison chaplaincy.

“One of the reasons why I am attracted to chaplaincy is the freedom it offers to serve and minister to marginalised people such as seafarers. Over the years as a Franciscan friar, I have discerned a calling to the ordained ministry. On 22 October 2022 I was ordained to the transitional diaconate and am looking forward to a future ordination to the priesthood,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin continued, “When I was a sailor, I experienced firsthand the welcome and sanctuary that seafarer missions and centres offer. This stayed with me and now I continue to feel the connection to seafarer ministry; I was fortunate to have been introduced to the Stella Maris apostolate over the past two years as a volunteer/ship visitor at Foyer des Marins in Trois-Rivières, Québec and Maison de Marins in Montréal; I am eager to serve as Port Chaplain in the Port of Montreal with my whole heart and soul.”

Stella Maris India – National Maritime Day celebrations in Tuticorin and Chennai

National Maritime Day in India is celebrated every year on 5 April across the country to commemorate the maiden voyage of the first Indian Commercial vessel SS Loyalty that set sail from Bombay (Mumbai) to London, on 5 April 1919. The Day is meant to appreciate the contribution of maritime trade to the growth of Indian economy and the significance of India’s strategic location in international trade.

Our Stella Maris team in Tuticorin celebrated the day creating awareness about the Maritime Day History and the role of Indian Seafarers in the Maritime Industry. They also distributed essential grocery items and food packages to widows of deceased seafarers and fishers.

Separately in Chennai, Holy Mass was celebrated at St. Paul’s Church by Port Chaplain Fr. Prem Raj. Awareness about the Maritime Day history and the role of Indian seafarers in the maritime industry was part of the celebration.

Stella Maris Philippines

In celebration of the 2023 Women’s Month, Stella Maris Philippines, in partnership with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) gathered about one hundred delegates, the great majority seafarer’s wives, from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, at the Manila Prince Hotel, from 29 March to 1 April, 2023.

The highlight was the gathering was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Stella Maris Philippines and OWWA to implement and monitor OWWA’s and Stella Maris’ programmes and services to seafarers and their families nationwide. You can read the press release by clicking the link below.

Stella Maris Taiwan – Kaohsiung Annual Report

Below you’ll find an excellent report produced by our team in Kaohsiung, led by port chaplain Fr Ansensius Guntur.

Stella Maris South Africa – Cape Town newsletter

This March activity report from Fr Rico Talisic, Stella Maris Cape Town port chaplain, is definitely worth a read.