The ice on the pavement did not put off over thirty Hallam Ascent parishioners, and their guests, from travelling to St Francis of Assisi parish on Sandygate Road, Sheffield to listen to Fr Colum Kelly, Port Chaplain at Immingham Docks, talk about his work with the Apostleship of the Sea.
Fr Colum spoke about the devastating effects of the surge that flooded a large section of the buildings at the docks last year. Many in the audience were not aware of the extent of the damage, nor that it took ten months to repair and re-open the centre. During that time Fr Colum did not rest from his work.
His mission became ‘mobile’ in more senses that one. He managed to fund-raise to buy a number of mobile hubs that he could lend to the ships in port so that sea farers could still communicate with their families, and he continued his visits to the ships in port from his van. Against the advice of others, he continued to live on the first floor of the centre, above the mud and devastation below. This allowed him to be on hand while salvage and restoration work was carried out, especially when the workers came to strip the chapel. Fr Colum insisted that the statue of Our Lady stayed to oversee procedures. The talk was accompanied by a Power Point show that helped the audience appreciate the extent of the damage. Tantalisingly Fr Colum did not show any pictures of what the centre looks like now after the restoration has been completed. This will have to wait until members of Hallam Ascent visit the docks in July. The group cannot wait!
The other purpose for Fr Colum’s visit was to collect the donations of clothes, toiletries, writing equipment and money from all over the Hallam diocese. The group was overwhelmed by the generosity of parishioners, and would like to thank everyone who gave sweaters, toiletries, sweets and money for the Apostleship of the Sea in Immingham. It was just as well that Fr Colum had travelled in his large van to come down to Sheffield! Fr Colum also received the results of a collection that amounted to £365.
After the talk the group had a chance to talk with Fr Colum more informally over a cup of tea and some cake. All were left with a great sense of gratitude for the work that Fr Colum does for these seafarers, whose work is so essential to maintain our lifestyle and who yet, sometimes, live in conditions few can imagine. The group look forward to their visit to the refurbished centre in July.