BY Peter Diamond | May 10 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Glasgow AoS deacon meets Pope Francis

A Glasgow deacon has revealed his ‘humbling experience’ on meeting Pope Francis when in Rome last month to attend an international conference on human trafficking.

Deacon Joe O’Donnell, chaplain for the Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) at Clyde port, this week spoke of his ‘awesome’ encounter with the Pope and explained how he will travel to the Vatican again next month for a further discussion with the Holy Father.

Mr O’Donnell, who is AoS’ senior regional port chaplain for Scotland, attended the Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking Conference in Rome from April 9-11.

On the final day of the conference, delegates were taken to the Vatican for the concluding session, the highlight of which was an address by Pope Francis, who later met all the delegates.


Pope’s encouragement

Mr O’Donnell, a deacon at St Mungo’s church in Townhead, Glasgow, was touched by the Holy Father’s words of strong encouragement.

“The Pope carries such a presence but he also displays a real gentleness when speaking to you,” he said.

“He was sincere in listening about the work we do and he said he would continue to support us, which I truly believe he will. Pope Francis’ knowledge of what we’re called to do in serving seafarers was also impressive. It was a truly humbling experience.”


Global support

The conference was organised by the Vatican’s Migrants & Refugees Department and brought together more than 200 bishops, priests, men and women Religious.

Deacon O’Donnell added: “What I took most of all from the conference was that sometimes in the line of work you can often think you are working on your own but that is not the case at all. There are so many different organisations out there trying to help people.”


Further contact

Deacon O’Donnell has been in the chaplaincy role at AoS for five years and will be one of the main organisers of 2020 centenary celebrations for AoS, which was formed in Glasgow.

“I have to go back to the Vatican on June 26 for four days and will get to speak to Pope Francis again for a longer period of time, which makes me think that there really is genuine interest in the work of AoS,” he said.

“Having met Pope Francis I really feel fulfilled but more than that rejuvenated.”

To commemorate AoS’ centennial, the 25th World Congress of the Apostleship of the Sea will be held in Glasgow from September 25 to October 4, 2020.

The five day event will see Nigerian Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Integral Human Development Service, visit Scotland and AoS will also receive a formal civic reception at Glasgow City Chambers.


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