At sea, but not forgotten
Local seafarers are remembered in Rome during Jubilee Year
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
The celebration of the Great Jubilee 2000 hits the high seas next week, and the Green Bay Diocese will be represented. On June 1, a voyage/pilgrimage sets sail in the Holy Land, touches the coasts of Crete, Turkey, Greece and Malta, and arrives in Italy on June 2, where passengers will pass through the holy door and celebrate Mass with the Pope. Dcn. Glenn Teske, port chaplain for the Port of Green Bay, and his wife, Patricia, will be among the 2,000 People of the Sea on board.
"It's a privilege to represent the seafarers of this area," said Dcn. Teske. "We are the smallest port in this country, if not the world. The pilgrimage is designed strictly for prayer and recognition. It is a way to lend support worldwide."
Support is needed for the more than 33 million people in the world connected to seafaring. Seafarers are the most abused itinerant group of people in the world, said Dcn. Teske.
"They have been very much on the minds of people over the last three or four years, but there still needs to be more progress," he said. "It's a hard life being away from your family for months at a time, and the working conditions are very poor for many."
The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People kept the seafarers in mind, when planning for the Jubilee. In addition to the seafarer's pilgrimage to Rome, Catholic seafarers may gain the Plenary Indulgence of the Great Jubilee at sea. To do so, they must make an act of perfect contrition accompanied with the firm intention of receiving the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist as soon as possible, recite the Our Father and the Apostles or Nicene Creed in front of a religious image and pray for the intention of the Holy Father.
Msgr. Jim Dillenburg, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Green Bay, and a former port chaplain, was instrumental in writing the pastoral letter outlining the guidelines for Plenary Indulgence for seafarers. The text was signed in Rome on Nov. 1, 1999.
Seafarers Ministry of Green Bay is also supporting men and women of the sea in the Year 2000 by distributing prayer cards along with a letter of welcome, the pastoral letter explaining a pilgrimage at sea, newspapers and magazines when visiting ships in port.
"Their parish is worldwide," said Dcn. Teske. "One prayer is a Jubilee gangway prayer, while the other is a unity prayer. There is a note included explaining the two cards."
Seafarer ministers visited 137 of the 161 ships in the Port of Green Bay last year, including three new Coast Guard ships.
"We furnished Bibles for the Coast Guard ships," said Dcn. Teske. "They came directly from Marinette and were open for tours. These ships used to have crews of 50, but now only have 18 crew members because of technology."
In 2000, seafarers ministers will service the first cruise ship to visit the Port of Green Bay. But the main goal of the group, which celebrated 31 years of service at a special memorial service last Sunday at the Neville Public Museum, is to provide fellowship and emotional and spiritual support to sailors on board merchant vessels.
"We do a great deal of listening," said Dcn. Teske. "They often need to talk to someone other than the other people on the ship. They make good money, but it is a very difficult life. Many of their marriages fail. It's hard on family life."
Dcn. Teske points to the dedication of the people of the Seafarers Ministry of Green Bay for its success. Jean Schneider, president, John Brzek, Ken Schneider, Marion Sippel and Alton and Beatrice Cardinal are among those who have been active in Seafarers Ministry for much of its existence. Carl Sippel, who was involved in Seafarers Ministry for 30 years, died this year. He was remembered at the memorial service.
"We have a number of generous people," said Dcn. Teske. "They look forward to our visits and are very appreciative. We will continue to provide friendship."