MANILA, Sept. 30, 2012— The Filipino seafarers are not only major contributors to the country’s economic growth, they are also ‘saint potentials’, the head of Manila’s Catholic Church said Sunday.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle said that the Philippine Catholic Church’s two martyrs were seafarers and missionaries at the same time before they became saints.
The archbishop was referring to Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Blessed Pedro Calungsod, the soon-to-be second Filipino saint.
“Dear seafarers, you are saint potentials. You have saint quality because our Philippines’ only two saints are like you seafarers and missionaries,” Tagle said.
He added that Ruiz and Calungsod who will be canonized in Rome on October 21 sailed to other countries and died for a mission: “to teach the Good News.”
Tagle spoke to about 3,000 participants of the 17th National Seafarers’ Day at the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) gym in Manila, a celebration that included parade, speeches and prayer.
The church official also called on the seafarers to shun temptations, and draw inspiration from their faith especially that they are away from their families.
“You should be instruments for what is good work and not of temptations,” he added. “The Filipinos today are sailing everywhere. Bring with you the best of the Filipinos.”
For his part, Vice President Jejomar Binay said the government is ensuring that the rights of the Filipino seafarers are protected.
He mentioned the recent ratification in the Senate of the Maritime Labor Convention 2006 being pushed by different maritime labor institutions, organizations and even the Church.
“The welfare of the men and women at sea is something that is close to our hearts,” Binay said.
The event, organized by the Apostleship of the Sea, started with an “ecumenical memorial at sea” at the Philippine Coast Guard head office, also in Manila, to honor the Filipino seamen who died on duty.
Church officials said this year’s festivity has become more elaborate and creative as a fitting response to the growing number of Filipino seafarers deployed on merchant and cruise ships around the world.
There are around 347,150 Filipino seafarers who largely contributed to the economic growth of the Philippines. In 2011, they have brought more than US$4 billion in remittances. [RL/CBCPNews]