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Rev. Norbert Mokros, 1938-2016, founded Seafarers ministry

The Rev. Norbert W.W. Mokros died Jan. 25 at age 77. A resident of Duluth for six decades, he served as the founding director of the Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers, a position he held from 1969 until his retirement in 2001. A naturalized U.S. c...

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The Rev. Norbert W.W. Mokros (Photo submitted)

 

The Rev. Norbert W.W. Mokros died Jan. 25 at age 77. A resident of Duluth for six decades, he served as the founding director of the Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers, a position he held from 1969 until his retirement in 2001.

A naturalized U.S. citizen, Mokros was born in the Silesian village of Mangschutz, Germany. His mother came from the nearby village of Minken. Both families had lived in this region of Silesia for centuries until the final months of World War II.

They fled the Russian armies advancing into Silesia and witnessed the firebombing of Dresden. Following the secession of Silesia to Poland, they joined the flow of millions who sought resettlement in what would become West Germany. Their journey brought them to a refugee camp near the Kiel Canal in northern Germany for the next two years.

By the late 1940s the family had settled in Velbert, in the vicinity of the city of Essen in the Ruhr industrial district. The family moved to Minnesota in 1956, sponsored by the Nokomis Lutheran Church of Minneapolis. Following his 1961 graduation from Augsburg College, he entered Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary. In 1964 he was ordained a minister of the American Lutheran Church.

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That year his ordination brought him to Duluth to serve as assistant pastor at Concordia Lutheran Church. By July, his work as a minister expanded significantly in response to a protracted labor strike by grain millers. The strike left a flotilla of international ships without the cargo of wheat that brought them down the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Twin Ports. The hundreds of international seamen aboard the ships had no opportunity to get off their vessels, contact their families or have respite from long isolation on board their ships.

With the support of his congregation and a dozen added denominations, Mokros began visiting ships and organizing a shuttle service to town. He organized the distribution of books and magazines, visited those who were hospitalized and secured translators. The strike ended but many supported the idea of creating a regular ministry to seafarers.

Through fundraising, the Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers opened officially in 1969 in a 64-by-14-foot mobile trailer on Garfield Avenue near the docks. Ship visiting began in earnest with the combined support of 11 denominations who, in addition to their offerings and volunteer work, collected Betty Crocker coupons that led to the initial purchase of a nine-passenger van.

Six years later in 1975, the Seafarers Ministry moved to its current home, the rectory building of the former St. Clement's Catholic Parish at 2024 W. Third St. The ministry continues to this day to provide sailors with shuttle rides to churches, shopping centers, medical clinics and other community services and other amenities while ships are in port.

A memorial service is planned for Spring 2016. The date will be announced once set. Correspondence can be sent to norbertmokrosmemorial@gmail.com .

 

Related Topics: FAITHSHIPPING
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