The Christmas season can be full of surprises for chaplains who work with seafarers.

Last year, the Apostleship of the Sea Catholic chaplain at the Auckland Seafarers’ Centre on Quay Street, Kheng Tan, brought $200 worth of Christmas “goodies” to a container ship berthed at the Port of Auckland.

This was on behalf of a Norwegian sailor who had been rescued by the crew of the ship off the coast of Northland. The gesture was one of thanks for the rescue.

The sailor received pastoral care from Mr Tan, who accompanied him until he was “handed over” to Norwegian diplomatic staff.

At about the same time last year, Mr Tan also visited a seafarer in Mt Eden Prison, seeing him several times during the Christmas period.

Mr Tan distributed pamphlets advertising Mass times at St Patrick’s Cathedral to seafarers, encouraging them to go to Mass. “Usually, for those unable to attend Mass, I would bring Holy Communion for them.” He also let seafarers know about the Simbang Gabi novena of Masses at the cathedral in the lead up to Christmas.

As chaplains are generally not allowed to board cruise ships in Auckland, Mr Tan emailed the relevant shipping managers about Mass times.

The Auckland Seafarers’ Centre is open on Christmas Day and on public holidays in the evenings until 9pm. Using facilities at the centre, seafarers can communicate with their loved ones in their home nations.

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