Records of Apostleship of the Sea

Scope and Content

Records of the Apostleship of the Sea containing minutes of meetings, reports, correspondence and other papers relating to the national organisation; returns and correspondence relating to regions and ports and publications produced by the organisation including 'The Anchor'. There are also papers relating to governance and the Apostleship of the Sea International Council (AMIC), the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrant and Itinerant People, as well as overseas national and regional Apostleships and international conferences. Other papers include articles and material on the history of Apostleship of the Sea and related organisations, mainly written by Peter Anson.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Apostleship of the Sea (AoS, or Apostolatus Maris in Latin) is a Catholic charity whose work is focused on the pastoral and practical care of seafarers of any nationality, race or belief whilst they away from their homes and families.

From the late 19th century various Catholic Seamen's Missions were established at major ports throughout the world, and various work to help seafarers was undertaken by individual countries and by the Catholic Society of St Vincent de Paul. The first AoS branch was established in 1899 at the port of Glasgow by Father Egger as the Apostleship of Prayer Society. A framework and constitution was submitted to the Holy See in Rome and, in 1922, a letter of encouragement was sent from the Holy See.

The movement grew and AoS were established at other major ports around the world. The laws and constitution of the movement were officially approved on 21 November 1957 and the now international movement became known as Apostolatus Maris, named after Mary, the Catholic patron saint of seafarers also known as 'Our Lady' and 'Star of the Sea'. Today, many centres use the name 'Stella Maris' ('Star of the Sea' in English) in recognition of this patron.

Until the 2nd Vatican Council in 1966 the international network of AoS was governed by the AMIC. The AMIC was dissolved by the Council of 1966 and was replaced by the International Permanent Bureau (also known as the International General Secretariat). From 1970, AoS has been under the direction of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrant Workers and Itinerant People, which itself was established at the Council of 1966 and is governed by the International Permanent Bureau.

In the UK, individual AoS in the UK were the responsibility of their respective diocese. However, in 2000 a merger took place to create one organisation known as AoS (Great Britain). The Liverpool AoS remained an exception to this, and continues to be governed as a separate organisation by the diocese of Liverpool.

Whilst the purpose of the AoS has remained unchanged throughout its history, its work has evolved in response to the changing nature of the shipping industry. When first established, local AoS operated hostels at their local port so seafarers away from home, and in port for a few days, had somewhere to stay. When overnight stays were no longer necessary in the shipping industry, local AoS instead provided drop-in centres. The centres were equipped with email and telephone access, facilities to get a drink and stock up on essentials, and spaces for seafarers to relax and chat. The presence in port of a chaplain and volunteer ship visitors has always been a feature of the work of the AoS.

Currently, AoS operates at over 250 ports worldwide, including 14 ports in the UK. Each year Catholic churches around the world celebrate Sea Sunday, and this day is the principle fundraising and awareness raising event in the AoS's annual calendar.


The collection is arranged into the following 12 series:

U DAPS/1 Governance

U DAPS/2 Correspondence

U DAPS/3 UK Apostleship of the Sea Regions and Ports

U DAPS/4 Oversees Countries

U DAPS/5 Cruise Ship Chaplaincy Papers

U DAPS/6 Publications

U DAPS/7 Photographs

U DAPS/8 Conference Papers

U DAPS/9 Sea Sunday Files

U DAPS/10 External Organisations Files

U DAPS/11 History Files

U DAPS/12 Subject Files

Access Information

Access will be provided to any accredited reader

Conditions Governing Use

Apostleship of the Sea (GB)

Custodial History

Deposited by Martin Foley of Apostleship of the Sea, July 2014

Related Material

Archives of the Mission to Seafarers [U DMS]