Coverage Areas:  National |  South Carolina |  Aiken |  Beaufort |  Charleston |  Columbia |  Greenville |  Myrtle Beach |  Rock Hill
Menu

Stars of the sea: Ports-based ministry serves seafarers

CHARLESTON — Three Catholics have found a way to fill a spiritual void for many seafaring strangers. One speaks the familiar language of their homeland, another welcomes them with warm sincerity and the third cares for their souls.

All three are members of the Charleston Port and Seafarers’ Society, an interfaith group that provides Christian sustenance and service to the men and women who make their livelihood on the ships docking in the Port of Charleston. CPSS has built a center that provides free religious and secular literature, phones, low-cost phone cards, free Internet, and rides to churches and shopping centers. The center is staffed by volunteers primarily from Protestant churches, and its members encourage more Catholics to join their ranks.

Manette Emnas, Gene McLaughlin and Dr. Frank Hyatt are the Catholic trio who go out to the Wando terminal on the weekends. The crew members they meet are multinational, but the majority are men from the Philippines and Thailand who have signed up for yearlong stints. They work to provide for their families and are away from loved ones and churches for challenging lengths of time.

Emnas hails from the Philippines and speaks several dialects of Tagalog, a welcome sound to seafarers from that country. She said she receives great respect in the mostly male environment. She works for a shipping company, and was aware that her countrymen came into port.

“I have been through hard times and have been blessed,” she said. “I want to help other people.”

McLaughlin is a retiree who heard about the ministry through his parish, St. Benedict, and embraced it as he does most strangers, with open arms.

“He’s the brains behind the outfit,” Hyatt said.

McLaughlin keeps track of ships that are docking, and some finances and supplies, but seems most comfortable talking and praying with people.

Hyatt, a retired emergency room doctor, is the mover and shaker. He desperately wants to see more Catholics donning hard hats, climbing gangways and sharing rosaries, holy water and prayer cards with these workers.

“Approximately 65,000 seafarers come through the port each year, and 75 percent of them are Roman Catholic,” he said.

The trio volunteers at the Wando terminal, which is the busiest, but would like to expand to the Union Pier, Columbus Street and North Charleston sites. Their mission entails a quick visit to several ships, sometimes sharing coffee or a meal, conversation and prayer.

“It’s fun,” Dr. Hyatt said, “and we definitely make a difference.”




  • Diocesan Events Calendar
    View All Events
    Apr 242:00 pm Unbury the Alleluia
    From the Calendar of St. Michael School Murrells Inlet
    All Day School Resumes
    From the Calendar of Summerville Catholic School
    7:00 pm Eclesiologia y Vaticano II #4
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Apr 25All Day "TAG" Day
    From the Calendar of Our Lady of the Rosary Greenville
    7:30 pm Eclesiologia y Vaticano II #3
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Apr 26All Day Fine Arts Festival
    From the Calendar of Holy Trinity North Myrtle Beach
    All Day Recyclable Project Show
    From the Calendar of Our Lady of the Rosary Greenville
    9:00 am Mass
    From the Calendar of Holy Trinity North Myrtle Beach
    7:00 pm Eclesiologia y Vaticano II #3
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    7:00 pm Eclesiologia y Vaticano II #3
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Apr 27All Day Recyclable Project Show
    From the Calendar of Our Lady of the Rosary Greenville
    All Day Progress Report #4
    From the Calendar of Our Lady of the Rosary Greenville
    All Day Progress Reports
    From the Calendar of St. Anne School Rock Hill
    All Day 2:00pm Dismissal
    From the Calendar of St. Mary School Greenville
    9:30 am Junior Ring and Scholarship Mass
    From the Calendar of Cardinal Newman School
    5:30 pm PTO Meeting
    From the Calendar of St. Peter School Columbia
    6:00 pm FallWinter Sports Banquet
    From the Calendar of St. Michael School Murrells Inlet
    All Day Field Day/Jump Rope for Heart
    From the Calendar of Summerville Catholic School
    Apr 28All Day Progress Reports Sent Home
    From the Calendar of Divine Redeemer
    Jr. High Young Ladies Retreat
    From the Calendar of Youth Ministry