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
    May 237:00 pm Confirmation - Sacred Heart - Gaffney - Bishop Guglielmone presiding
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    7:30 pm Mariologia #1
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    May 24All Day 2nd Semester Exams
    From the Calendar of Bishop England Charleston
    All Day Semester Exams (4th and 3rd)
    From the Calendar of Bishop England Charleston
    All Day 8th Grade Exams
    From the Calendar of Charleston Catholic School
    All Day Middle School Exam Week
    From the Calendar of Christ Our King Mount Pleasant
    All Day 4K End of Year Picnic
    From the Calendar of Christ Our King Mount Pleasant
    All Day Last Day of 5K Classes
    From the Calendar of Christ Our King Mount Pleasant
    All Day Final Exams
    From the Calendar of Our Lady of Peace North Augusta
    All Day 8th Grade Graduation
    From the Calendar of Prince of Peace School Taylors
    All Day MAP Testing
    From the Calendar of St. Anthony of Padua School Greenville
    All Day 8th Grade Graduation
    From the Calendar of St. Paul the Apostle School Spartanburg
    All Day 7th and 8th Grade Final Exams
    From the Calendar of Nativity Charleston
    8:00 am Baccalaureate Mass
    From the Calendar of Divine Redeemer
    9:15 am Underclassmen Honors Convocation
    From the Calendar of Cardinal Newman School
    All Day Eighth Grade Exams
    From the Calendar of Cardinal Newman School
    7:00 pm Mariologia #1
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    7:00 pm Mariologia #1
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    7:00 pm Confirmation - St. Paul - Spartanburg - Bishop Guglielmone presiding
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    May 25All Day 2nd Semester Exams
    From the Calendar of Bishop England Charleston