By Celine Klosterman
A private audience with the pope and a talk by the captain of a hijacked ship were highlights of the 23rd World Congress of the Apostleship of the Sea (AOS), said Father Bill Reynolds, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Newton.
National secretary of the AOS and a cruise ship priest, he attended the congress from Nov. 19-23 in Vatican City. Four-hundred people from 70 nations, including 32 U.S. delegates, attended the event, he said.
“There was a wonderful diversity of speakers with a variety of expertise,” Fr. Reynolds said. They included Giuseppe Lubrano Lavadera, who was captain of an oil tanker. Somali pirates held him and his sailors captive for 10 months in 2011.
“Captors tried to break him down, but faith kept him together,” the priest said. “It helped him continue to be of service to his employer and the mariners aboard his ship. He spoke from the depths of his heart about how important faith was to him.”
When Lavadera, the mariners, and the ship were freed, he radioed for a nearby ship to send a priest for Mass. “Mariners of every faith came to the Mass, so relieved they were to be freed and again able to worship and give thanks to God,” Fr. Reynolds said.
To read the rest of this article, subscribe to The Catholic Messenger’s e-edition.