Fr. Roman MAJEWSKI ministers with seafarers and fishermen. He shares his experience with us:
Along the whole coast of Madagascar, the Church ministers with seafarers and fishermen. This is the main objective of the activity of the Apostolate of the Sea, which has been operating in Madagascar since 1973. I have been offering this service in the diocese of Tamatave since last year. I am a chaplain for the Apostolate of the Sea in Tamatave. I work with seafarers and fishermen and their families. I often visit with the lay and religious personnel of the sailors arriving at the port of Tamatave. We also visit fishermen and their families who live there. We try to provide them with pastoral help by celebrating the Eucharist on ships or, back at home, celebrating other sacraments and teaching catechism.
We also organize social activities. Every Saturday, 190 children of poor sailors and fishermen receive a full meal. Eighty of these children receive help for paying school fees, thanks to what is called the “adoption of the heart.” We also offer these children medical care, doctor visits and medication. We also offer a variety of courses to prepare children and youth for future work and family life. Recently, a course was begun for young people from fishing families who wanted to continue fishing according to the traditional Malagasy method in order to make a better living. Catching fish according to the traditional Malagasy method consists of putting out to sea on small canoes and fishing with a net thrown out next to the canoe. Despite the dangers that lie in the great ocean, they choose to do so because this way of fishing is often the only source of income for their families.
The wives of fishermen and widows of fishermen who died at sea form an association with the Apostolate of the Sea. It consists in handcrafting traditional Malagasy objects and their sale. This activity helps them provide for their own families and homes.
Everything we do in the Apostleship of the Sea is made possible thanks to the help of people of good will who share with us their means. That is why, on behalf of each of us, I would like to say from our hearts to each of you “MISAOTRA” which means “THANK YOU”. Your help makes us feel that we are not on an lonely island. God bless you! (Bulletin OMI Madagascar, September 2017)