When Marco Folchnandt goes on board of a ship for a visit, he says a friendly: ‘Hello, my friend!’ The 55-year-old has been the new Portchaplain at the Deutsche Seemannsmission in Lübeck since 1 May. The most important thing for him is to recognise seafarers as people.

In Lübeck, the father of three children is mainly expected to visit the ships in the harbour. This also includes missions in the area of psychosocial emergency care. If there is an accident on board or someone dies, Folchnandt comes on board as an emergency counsellor to talk to the seafarers about what they have experienced.

Folchnandt moved from Brake on the Lower Weser, where he had previously worked for six years as a half-time seaman’s chaplain, primarily in the local seamen’s club. Lübeck also has a small club for seafarers at Lehmannkai. “The Lübeck location is a new challenge for me. For six years I was in a small port where everything was within a kilometre and a half. There are many individual harbours in Lübeck. I’m looking forward to it.”

The seafarers take centre stage
However, Marco Folchnandt is not interested in the goods, but in the people on board the ships. “I really like having direct contact with people at work. I get the reaction back immediately. For example, when I help someone to get online, I see a beaming face. I appreciate the immediate help the most. And giving something back for the 90 % of the goods we receive through the work of the seafarers.”

From 2013 to 2016, Folchnandt worked at the Duckdalben Seamen’s Club in Hamburg. “There I realised how important it is to be there for people. People who are otherwise often overlooked.” The portchaplain likes the contact with the public. At events with young people, confirmation and senior citizens’ groups, he tries to tell as many people as possible about the Deutsche Seemannsmission.

On a summer’s day in Timmendorfer Strand a few years ago, Marco Folchnandt’s wife said to him: ‘We’re going to grow old here’. ‘We just really like the area and the new challenge,’ says Folchnandt.