Never Ending Story

Jun 28, 2011

by the Rev. Joyce Parry Moore, Bay Area Senior Chaplain & Development Officer

Owners of the vessel the Blue Jade left the ship and its crew of 18 seafarers stranded in the San Francisco Bay when they declared bankruptcy earlier this year. After a call from the Coast Guard in Hawaii, SCI–Bay Area Senior Chaplain the Rev. Joyce Parry Moore worked with SCI’s Center for Seafarer’s Rights Director Douglas B. Stevenson to offer support to the crew. In May, Joyce wrote about her experiences as she continued to visit the crew to ascertain their situation and needs. The following article continues Joyce’s story about the crew.

When my son was a boy, one of his favorite movies was The Neverending Story, a fantasy adventure in which a very diverse crew—including a dragon, a boy, a young warrior, a princess and a man made of stone—worked together to keep hopelessness from destroying the creativity in their world. Written from two perspectives, that of the warrior and that of the boy, it was printed in two colors of ink, one for each perspective.

For those of you following the narrative of the Blue Jade, I am writing this final update. Their story has not come to an end, but rather it continues with a series of new beginnings. Thus is often way of life—a continuous fabric woven of many “neverending stories,” which intersect with one another and bring different perspectives. Such was the day we shared our final Mass together aboard the Blue Jade, when it become called the Marianne Kirk. The vessel had been bought at auction by a new shipping company and would soon depart on its journey.

Since that Sunday would be Pentecost, and Philippines Independence day, we read from the Book of Acts the story of the first Disciples receiving the Holy Spirit. We considered how those disciples might have felt as they gathered on that day—perhaps not unlike the crew. They were discouraged, and tired, and did not know quite how they would continue on. With the crew of the Blue Jade, many of them had agreed to enter new contracts and stay on board, and those who were going home did not yet know how or when that would happen.

Just as our reflection was ending, there were voices speaking Tagalog in the hallway, and the new crewmembers joining the vessel came aboard. Included in these ten seafarers was a former member of the original crew. Engleberth smiled broadly to see us again, with a fresh haircut, earring, and energy. Like the Disciples, we suddenly received inspiration and Spirit. Together, both new and continuing crew celebrated Eucharist, and we prayed for those who would (we hoped) soon travel home. We sang Mahiwaga (Miracle), our favorite song, whose final words are “pagasa ng bawat kaluluwa” (hope for every soul).

And the story continued. For days, those leaving the vessel awaited tickets and final payments, until finally, as the ship prepared to leave and the pilot was already on board, they received the good news. As of this writing, all five—two Korean and three Filipino officers—are in San Francisco preparing to return home. And the Marianne Kirk sails on, collecting new life stories. Changed, and the same, and full of new hope. I know that my own faith found inspiration in the story and struggle of the Blue Jade/Marianne Kirk.