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
    Mar 23All Day Stations of the Cross
    From the Calendar of St. Michael School Murrells Inlet
    3:30 pm Parent-Teacher Conferences
    From the Calendar of Cardinal Newman School
    7:00 pm Eclesiologia y Vaticano II #2
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Mar 24All Day Parent-Teacher Conferences
    From the Calendar of Blessed Sacrament Charleston
    All Day Grandparents' Day
    From the Calendar of Christ Our King Mount Pleasant
    All Day Report Card
    From the Calendar of Our Lady of Peace North Augusta
    All Day Report Card
    From the Calendar of St. Anthony of Padua School Greenville
    All Day Early Dismissal- Professional In-Service
    From the Calendar of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Carolina Forest
    All Day End of Third Quarter
    From the Calendar of St. John Neumann School Columbia
    All Day 5th Grade Star Base
    From the Calendar of St. Joseph School Columbia
    All Day End 3rd Quarter
    From the Calendar of St. Joseph School Columbia
    All Day 6th Grade Retreat
    From the Calendar of St. Joseph School Columbia
    All Day End of 3rd Quarter
    From the Calendar of St. Martin de Porres School Columbia
    All Day End of Third Quarter
    From the Calendar of St. Peter School Columbia
    All Day Report Cards- Parent/Teacher Conferences
    From the Calendar of Nativity Charleston
    9:00 am Mass
    From the Calendar of Our Lady of the Rosary Greenville
    12:00 pm NOON DISMISSAL (Parent-Teacher Conferences)
    From the Calendar of Christ Our King Mount Pleasant
    2:15 pm School Stations of the Cross
    From the Calendar of St. Mary School Greenville
    All Day Report Cards Emailed
    From the Calendar of St. Mary School Greenville
    All Day Fish Fry
    From the Calendar of St. Michael School Murrells Inlet