Australia’s Bishops recently appointed seven members to create the Apostleship of the Sea National Committee. A commissioning ceremony and inaugural meeting was held in Sydney in September.
Two of those appointed to the National Committee are Novocastrians. They are Ray Collins, former director of the Catholic Schools Office, and volunteer Maureen Grealy.
Maureen has volunteered at Mission to Seafarers (MTS) Newcastle for five years, and was “surprised and honoured” to have her name put forward for the committee.
Seafarers are confronted with genuine threats and dangers to their lives and can suffer from high rates of suicide, depression and self-harm. Some common issues affecting seafarers include: exposure to piracy and criminal activity in oceans surrounding Australia; poor working conditions; and isolation and distance from family while at sea. One million seafarers are on the world’s oceans at any time and 90 per cent of Australia’s trade is reliant on shipping. That means Australia’s ports are prime locations to offer ministry and pastoral care.
Mission to Seafarers Newcastle welcome anyone from the maritime community through their doors each year, in an effort to assist as many individuals as possible. Each seafarer has a different need when they arrive at the centre. Maureen shared a story of a man who sat in the centre at Wickham playing guitar and serenading his wife via Skype on the free Wi-Fi, while his fellow seafarers went shopping.
The good work of the centre is kept going by committed volunteers. An afternoon tea was held on 10 October to farewell Margaret and Les Johnson who have been volunteering for two and a half years. They are now moving to Tamworth and are sad to say goodbye to their MTS family. Margaret said it had been a blessing being able to volunteer at Mission to Seafarers, and particularly “a blessing for Les and I to do ministry together as husband and wife.”
The departure of Margaret and Les has created a need for more volunteers. The centre has a great atmosphere, and the volunteers are passionate about what they do, such as: visiting ships, driving seafarers to shopping centres, working in the centre’s shop, providing opportunity for Mass, and collecting donations of beanies, toiletries etc to give to seafarers. All of this contributes to the wellbeing of seafarers in the short window of time that they are in Newcastle.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please call 4961 5007 or visit mtsnewcastle.org.au/