HOW SEA APOSTOLATE WORKS IN LIVERPOOL
By a Staff Reporter NE Sunday evening lecently I arranged to meet a priest at a certain dingy street corner in Liverpool's dockland area. When I arrived at the appointed place six feet two inches of solid citric in the person of the Rev. Denis Kelly, Apostleship of the Sea Port Chaplain and Naval Chaplain for the Port of Liverpool, loomed up out of the black-out.
" This way for the League of Nations Ball," he said.
Fr. Kelly organises what he officially calls " Ships' Evenings" for seamen visiting Liverpool. The
seamen may he merchant or naval, Catholic or non-Catholic, but they must be serving seafarers and not dockside loafers. I was off to a ships' evening.
A couple of turns to the right, under some bridges, and we had reached Atlantic House, the Liverpool headquarters of the Apostleship of the Sea.
Meet the " Admirals"
At the top of a flight of stone stairs, freshly painted white, I was introduced to the " admirals "—otherwise Charlie Brown and John Brady, the caretakers and general supervisors of everything nautical. Being the guest of the chaplain, I was allowed " aboard " and shown where to " stow " my hat and coat prior to going on the " deck " with the Rev. George Waring, assistant port chaplain.
The " deck " is a long room, having a platform at one end and a wide, short staircase at the other leading up to the " bridge," or chaplain's office.
From the bridge I watched the world go by--Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, Finns, Poles, Egyptians, Italians, Irish, Scotch, English, Newfoundlanders, Australians and New Zealanders, partnered by smartly-dressed girls, active and auxiliary members of the Legion of Mary, who are the hostesses.
The couples were Lambeth Walking. by way of a change from fo'c'sle walliing, to the music of a jazz band.
Someone once said that if the ambassadors of the nations were sailors the world would be a happier place to live in. If one can take the Apostleship of the Sea as evidence then it is true.
A " Matey " Lot
I saw representatives of countries officially not on the best of terms laughing and joking together; of persecuted countries helping to serve out tea and cakes and assisting in the collection of used cups and plates from under chairs —all men who go down to the sea in ships gathered together.
During an interval I talked with Captain M. J. O'Shaughnessey, master of ceremonies, who told me that the only difficulty he has to contend with is the dodging of sailor feet. As I had not acquired the knack I went in search of a quieter " deck,' where I watched a Polish seaman and a bluejacket play the fastest game of table tennis I have ever seen in my life. Other seafarers were playing billiards, chess and darts.
Our Lady of the Ships Later I joined a group of Goans on their way up to the beautiful little oratory dedicated to Our Lady of the Ships. We said our prayers and returned to the " lower deck" in time to hear Fr. Kelly announce that the "Ships' Evening" would conclude with Benediction.
The jazz band disappeared from the platform, a curtain was drawn back, and we knelt in front of an altar prepared for Benediction.
In a closing announcement the chaplain informed the seafarers that those in need of woollens and clothes should present themselves at the stores, where they would be supplied free with whatever they required.
I stood at the counter and heard sailors, with names impossible to pronounce, registered as " Manchester," " Birmingham," " received one pullover, two pairs of socks," etc.
That was just one evening's work at Atlantic House, the Liverpool Home of the Apostleship of the Sea.