Mission to Seafarers, Yokohama


Chaplain's Report 2018

2018 has been a special and eventful year for the MtS Yokohama. The former chaplain Andrew Dangerfield left Yokohama last July after serving six years of his ministry. From last June, I have started my new ministry in the Port of Yokohama. For the Diocese of Yokohama, Bishop Laurence Minabe retired last March. He has been a very good friend of the Mission having himself worked as a chaplain in other parts of the world during his ministry. Last September, Bishop Ignatius Irie was consecrated as the bishop of Yokohama. I believe that for growth to happen, change must occur. As a theologian said, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” With the help of these words of wisdom, I am trying to carry out my new ministry in a new environment.

Having only arrived at the end of May 2018, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the entire events of the fiscal year 2017-2018. However, I would like to clarify our value as follows: our value is to live in communion with others including all seafarers, and with the world, participating in the life of the triune God’s dynamic relationships, which implies the intrinsic mutual indwelling and self-giving and receiving which exist in the life of the Trinity. Our objective in promoting our values is to develop a ministry of an integrated care combined with a practical and a spiritual one.

I have divided my report into the two following parts: 1) what we have achieved; 2) what we want to achieve.


We carry out a ship visiting centred ministry. We have visited 517 ships this year and provided transportation services to over 361 seafarers. We also regularly visit the hospital to provide practical, emotional and spiritual support to seafarers, providing Wi-Fi service and taking Holy Communion to them.

In November, the Mission was asked by a ship owner to support a crew where the chief engineer had died of a heart attack on board. The captain and the crew were devastated by this tragedy and requested the help of the Mission to provide support to the crew. We accompanied the medical agent, doctor and ship owner’s representatives by small launch out to the vessel that was being held at anchorage in Tokyo Bay. Once on board and the body of the C/E had been examined by the doctor we were able to offer a Mass for the repose of the soul of the C/E and for the spiritual support of the rest of the crew. Having spent a couple of hours on board we then returned to shore with the C/E’s body for repatriation to his home country of the Philippines. His wife and other family members were immensely grateful for our support.

Every year the month of December is dedicated to the distribution of Christmas gifts to ships visiting the port. We were pleased to give out a total of 420 gifts in 2017. We were very grateful for the help and generosity of local communities including the members of Yokohama Christ Church, local parish churches, and the students at the Kanto Gakuin University. Our Christmas Gift campaign would not have been possible without their wholehearted support.  


To achieve our objectives, we want to focus on the two following areas in the coming year. First, developing our presence in the ports of Yokohama and Tokyo, and second, increasing our resources.

In order to develop our presence in the ports of Yokohama and Tokyo, we will try to enhance relationships with local people and organizations linked to the welfare of seafarers. At present, during the third week of the month I spend a day with our AoS colleagues in the Port of Tokyo. 

In conjunction with developing our presence, we will try to increase our resources. There is little knowledge and understanding about maritime chaplaincy in the Port of Yokohama. This has hindered us from increasing our resources such as fundraising and volunteer invitations. In order to overcome these challenges, we plan on establishing an advisory group for the MtS Yokohama next year, which can provide practical assistance.

Lastly, I would like to thank many Yokohama Christ Church members and our ship visiting volunteers Paul Hoshino, Koichi Segawa, and Jennifer Jones, for their help in personnel, Christmas gifts, financial and spiritual support. Many Thanks to Andrew Dangerfield, our Regional Director Stephen Miller, Paul Tolhurst in Kobe, for their constant friendship and support. Many thanks also to Rika and the Kobe committee members for their support in many ways. A big thank you to seafarers who make our work possible with their hospitality on board.


Simon Ro


The ‘beautiful export’

The UK, is the home of the 'beautiful game' of association football. From those early days in the middle of the 19th century when the 'Cambridge Rules' codified the modern game as we know it, football has been a keen pursuit for many down the centuries and continues to excite and inspire fans of teams from local village squads to large city clubs. Today, vast amounts of money and a massive following from supporters are invested in football in the UK, but what is clear is that many of the top premiership football clubs have become a global phenomenon. The infectious devotion to the beautiful game is something that is also popular among seafarers. As a chaplain I am often asked for DVDs of recent football matches on television, sadly something that we cannot offer here in Japan. Nevertheless, there are times when the fortunes of favorite teams form the heart of passionate debate on board the ships that travel our seas. This love of football became very apparent on a recent visit to the maritime vessel Yusho Haruna. The Indonesian crew are great fans of Premier league football coming as they do from a country that loves football and where the Premier League is big business. In Indonesia, Arsenal alone can boast over 1.3 million fans connected via Facebook and the 'gunners' are set to play a friendly match in Jakarta this summer. So I was delighted to enjoy the company of a small group of seafarers on board the ship who were anxious to learn what team I supported and to chat at length about the ups and downs of the Premier league. It's good to know that something as simple as a game of football can bring people together from very different parts of the world and provide a starting point for good conversation and fellowship. Talking and joking about the tale of woes for various teams provides a valuable 'way in' that builds relationships and I am quite sure that the time spent with the guys from the Yusho Haruna who laughed and joked with the Chaplain and his support for ‘Spurs’ will be remembered as much by them as it is by me.