Mission to Seafarers Report
Extract from Anglican Focus Thursday, 5 May 2022 - by Mission to Seafarers President, Captain Ross Nicholls
"Our year at the Brisbane Seafarers Centre commenced with the necessary levels of enthusiasm and energy that are needed to provide care and support to the tens of thousands of seafarers transiting our port annually," says Mission To Seafarers President, Captain Ross Nicholls.
COVID-19, while making a notable impact, has ultimately left our mission in a stronger and more resilient position going forward. We have adapted our services to survive financially and enhanced the way we keep connected with seafarers. Our connections with seafarers, their families and our wonderful community of supporters are paramount.
In the first quarter of 2022, we engaged with seafarers in a range of ways that many of us take for granted. When you consider that less than 20 per cent of the world’s shipping fleets have internet available to seafarers, you can understand that criticality of connectivity. We aim to connect seafarers in a range of ways that make their lives more “normal”.
For two years, shore leave, which is a critical element of seafarer mental health, was prohibited due to COVID-19.
In late January, shore leave restrictions were lifted after 18 Months. So our doors reopened, and a welcoming message was sent out to all agents and ships inviting seafarers back to visit, play pool, connect with families via Wi-Fi or just enjoy the gardens, the birds and the local shops.
Our port has long had two seafarer welfare service providers, the Anglican Church’s Mission to Seafarers (MTS) and the Catholic Church’s Stella Maris. Our two organisations have consistently worked together in ports around the world to provide for the spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing of seafarers. Mostly these services have been offered through separate facilities. It was recognised long ago that the synergies of working more closely alongside each other locally could be enhanced by working from a common centre.
So in early January 2022, Mission to Seafarers and Stella Maris joined forces at the new Brisbane Seafarers Centre to benefit seafarers and our respective organisations. The Brisbane Seafarers Centre team of Heather, Barry and Wil are now collectively looking after the wellbeing of our seafarers.
Sadly, March also brought with it the passing of The Rev’d William Robert Pearson (Father Bill), Chaplain Emeritus for Mission to Seafarers. Father Bill was a well known and loved MTS chaplain who first connected with the Mission in Townsville in 1959. Having held active positions with the Royal Australian Navy Reserve and Mission to Seafarers Brisbane from 1996-2006, Father Bill was well versed in the life of a seafarer, which made his role of chaplain to these and several other seagoing organisations highly relevant. A requiem mass was held for Father Bill in early March at All Saints’, Wickham Terrace and our love and sympathy for his family were clear as many of his Mission To Seafarers friends attended.
Anglicans Australia-wide commemorate the significant contribution of the seafarer on Sea Sunday, which is marked on the second Sunday of July annually. Please take the opportunity this year on Sunday 10 July to recognise the contribution that seafarers make to our lives. Should you like further information about Sea Sunday and the sermon notes that are prepared for this day, please contact Mission to Seafarers via email@example.com.