NAMMA Distinguished Service Awards Presented to Fr. Sinclair Oubre and Sharon Emerson

Article audio (courtesy of Don Sheetz)

On February 15th, Fr. Sinclair Oubre, the Stella Maris chaplain in the Diocese of Beaumont, and Sharon Emerson, Executive Director of the Corpus Christi Seafarers’ Center, were presented with the Distinguished Service Award by NAMMA. The presentations took place during a celebration at the Houston International Seafarers’ Center, commemorating the 50th year of the port chaplain training course. Over 75 individuals gathered from the Port Houston community, seafarers’ centers along the Gulf Coast, the NAMMA board, and current students of the course. NAMMA, the association of over 55 seafarers’ welfare ministries in ports across North America and the Caribbean, organized the event.

Chaplain Michelle DePooter, Vice-President of NAMMA, presented the awards alongside Dana Blume, Secretary of NAMMA, and Dr. Jason Zuidema, Executive Director of NAMMA.

NAMMA’s Distinguished Service Award, previously known as the Lifetime Membership Award, honors individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service to seafarers’ welfare over many years, both within local seafarers’ ministries and in other local, regional, national, or international capacities. Nominees are typically NAMMA members, part of a NAMMA affiliated agency, or significant partners with NAMMA’s members in their programs.

Fr. Sinclair has been a longstanding member of NAMMA, having served as president of the Association for a term. He is a priest in the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas, and has served the people of the sea in various capacities. He graduated from the Houston training program in 1990 and has been deeply involved in the Apostleship of the Sea – USA and the Port Arthur International Seafarers’ Center. His dedication extends beyond blue water mariners to inland mariners and fishers, supporting the Port Arthur Area Shrimpers Association for over a generation. In addition to providing pastoral and humanitarian care, he maintains his credentials as a licensed mariner by sailing annually, bringing a unique perspective to his role as Gulf Branch Secretary of The Nautical Institute and as a frequent speaker in industry and government panels. Fr. Sinclair will also be a speaker at the US Maritime Administration Mariner Work-Life Balance Symposium in April 2024.

In his remarks after receiving the award, Fr. Sinclair emphasized the significance of the maritime industry and the rewarding nature of a career in it. He stressed the importance of focusing on its positive aspects, highlighting its high-paying jobs and great benefits. He expressed his happiness in serving the people of the sea for many decades.

Sharon Emerson was the second recipient. Sharon has been a dedicated member of the NAMMA board for a significant duration, contributing to numerous committees and serving as the board secretary. Known for her meticulous attention to detail, she often utilizes her red pen to correct documents with precision. In addition to her board duties, Sharon serves as the executive director of the Corpus Christi Seafarers’ Center, demonstrating her deep commitment to the cause through sacrificial giving. Before assuming her current roles, she worked as a paralegal in a Corpus Christi law office, gaining experience in the maritime industry by inspecting vessels, showcasing her diverse background and valuable expertise.

In her remarks, Sharon reflected on how she picked up the mantle of previous director Alice Malloy in Corpus Christi and has cherished serving seafarers. She continues to collaborate with the entire port community to bring joy into the lives of seafarers.

Both recipients are committed to continuing their service to seafarers.


NAMMA members receive a print copy of The MARE Report, NAMMA’s annual magazines for seafarer’s welfare professionals