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About M2S

The Ministry to Seafarers (M2S) is located in the Old Port of Montreal and is an outreach mission of the Christian Reformed Church.

Who We Are

In the early 1960s, the Reverend Uittenbosch of the Christian Reformed Church of North America started to visit the ships that came into the Port of Montreal to reach out to the men on the ships with compassion and the gospel. Eventually, in 1965, his work became what is known today as The Ministry to Seafarers (M2S).

We work out of Mariners' House, an independent organization supported by various shipping federations and companies, which is conveniently located in the Old Port of Montreal. Our office is located in their building and we work hand-in-hand with them. We have two full-time chaplains and one administrator on staff, and rely on the help of many volunteers.

What We Do

M2S exists to help meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of all seafarers, regardless of nationality or religion, who visit the Port of Montreal. We do that by:
  • being a friend and lending a listening ear
  • advocating on their behalf with the appropriate authorities
  • offering prayer, spiritual counsel, and free Bibles in their own language
  • providing a safe and quiet place for them to relax and unwind
  • helping them keep in touch with their families
  • providing free transportation to/from their ships
  • dispensing food, beverages, clothing, toiletries and personal items that are not available on-board.
Read more about our Facilities and Services, or follow our staff and volunteers as we describe for you a typical Day in the Life of M2S.

Meet the team.

Michelle DePooter

Head Chaplain

David Rozeboom

Chaplain

Patty Sarazen

Administrator

Why Seafarers?

In 2008 an estimated 7.7 billion tonnes of cargo was shipped worldwide. That’s 77 with 8 zeros behind it! That requires a lot of ships, and those ships are manned by seafarers – an estimated 1.2 million of them!

Each ship has a crew of only 20 men and women, on average, who are usually contracted on 6-9 month terms. Most seafarers (the vast majority are men) are from Asia and Eastern Europe. Many come from very low-income areas and they have chosen to leave behind those they love and set sail in order to provide for them.

Seafaring jobs are demanding and often dangerous. Even though the shipping industry has regulations governing the working conditions of seafarers, many countries ignore them or do not enforce them. As a result, even in our modern world, many seafarers work in very hazardous, stressful conditions on-board ships, which only compounds the dangers of the job and intensifies their loneliness and helplessness. All this creates a need. A need for advocacy, support, encouragement – and a need for love like Jesus'.

So, that’s where we come in. And you, too, hopefully!

God wants us to reach out to all people, near and far, it's true.
At M2S, we like to say we reach the far when they come near!

A Day in the Life of M2S

Every day (and we mean every day!) our chaplains drive out to visit any ships that are in the Port of Montreal. They go aboard to meet the crew and spend some time with the seafarers while they are on their breaks or having lunch. Over a cup of tea or coffee, our chaplains listen as the seafarers discuss their work, their families and the joys and struggles of both. Many friendships are forged during these times of casual, open conversation.

Before leaving for the next ship, the chaplains take note of how many seafarers would like to be picked up in the evening for a visit to Mariners' House, and at approximately what time. For seafarers who don’t have an opportunity for shore leave, the chaplains bring a supply of phone cards to sell to those with cell phones so they can call home. Now and then, the chaplains also help the seafarers out by taking them to run errands in downtown Montreal.

When evening rolls around, the volunteers arrive, ready to begin assisting with phone calls, helping out behind the snack bar and gift counter, or driving the Mariners' House shuttle vehicles — a big van and a small bus — to pick up seafarers from their ships, or return any who would like to go back to their ships.

Using the information the chaplains have gathered during the day, the shuttle "bus" drivers make their rounds to every ship that has requested a passenger pick-up. The seafarers are then brought back to Mariners' House where they can spend the evening relaxing, contacting friends and family, socializing with our staff, volunteers and fellow seafarers, and enjoying a variety of activities that are available to them.

At around 9pm, an evening service is offered to those who would like to participate. At 10pm, the shuttle service leaves Mariners' House to return all the seafarers to their ships. The remaining volunteers and staff then do a thorough clean-up of the facilities in preparation for... another day in the life of M2S and Mariners' House.