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Thursday, 04 August 2011 04:49

Maritime ministry awarded

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The Sydney Seafarers' Centre (SSC) at Port Botany is jointly run by the Anglican and Catholic Churches and the International Transport Federation (ITF).  It was established in 1986 as a place to welcome visiting seafarers and provide them with facilities, a social venue and pastoral and welfare services.

The centre's three welfare providers and manager were presented with the coveted award at the 15th Lloyd's List DCN Shipping and Maritime Industry Awards held at the Ivy Ballroom in Sydney at the end of November. The top award was one of 14 presented on the night celebrating excellence and achievement in the maritime industry. The awards were determined by the judging panel selected by Lloyd's List DCN and sponsored by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

Sister Mary Leahy, who has been involved in ministry in the Apostleship of the Sea for 19 years said:  "Our Centre is unique in that three welfare providers, the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), Flying Angel run by the Anglican Church, and the Apostleship of the Sea run by the Catholic Church, all work together at the grassroots level. We present a new model of holistic welfare… caring for body and soul!"

Sister Mary said she has always been supported by the Union and they respect her care for all seamen regardless of their religion.

She has been with them in many situations over the years and has worked hard to try and ensure that seamen receive all the care they can. She has often laughingly told the union's welfare group that if they did their job well she could do her chaplain role effectively.

Mark Armstrong, who manages the centre, said that above all the centre demonstrated respect and tolerance for the rich traditions and inspiration of everyone involved.

"And we use this inspiration to move forward together, in order to respond to seafarers' needs in the best possible way," he said.

Sister Mary said that this is something she has worked for over the years so that by working together more may be done for the seamen with the limited resources available.

Dean Summers, ITF National Coordinator for Australia, said that the award was an appropriate recognition for the great work done by all of those at the centre and presents a unique model for the delivery of welfare across the world.

"It is difficult for us living ashore to appreciate just how important this short respite is for workers away from home for extended periods," he said.

"The SSC showcases the best way to provide welfare services to international seafarers visiting all of Sydney's ports," he said. "It is a centre which recognises all religions, nationalities and cultural diversities under one roof."

In his letter supporting the nomination, Paddy Crumlin, MUA National Secretary and ITF President said the SSC had receive more than 2000 visitors this year and had been an effective conduit for the delivery of all aspects of welfare including spiritual, industrial, medical, communication and personal.

"The centre is the first in Australia to become a central hub for the provision of welfare for all cultural, class and religious denominations. Under the one roof the centre engenders an unrivalled level of collaboration between the church groups and the community volunteers," he said.

Sister Mary's fellow Sisters of St Joseph said they were very proud of the work she does in this ministry.

"It is truly Josephite in providing a holistic response to seamen who are often very far from home with limited access to support in any way."

Pathways, December 2010

Have your say...

"Congratulations Sister Mary. You are the soul and joy of so much kindness to all in need "
- Ray O'Donoghue, 17-12-2010

"Congratulations Mary and all the team supporting seafarers. What a great example of grassroots union members and different churches working together for the good of others."
- Janet Cummings rsj, 17-12-2010

"Well done, Mary and the Centre. What a model of care you are providing between you, and how good it is to see it being recognized for the well-being that it provides for seafarers."
- Marian McClelland sss, 19-12-2010

"Well done, Mary and the Centre. What a model of care you are providing between you, and how good it is to see it being recognized for the well-being that it provides for seafarers."
- Marian McClelland sss, 19-12-2010

"Congratulations Mary and Centre. Apart from your ministry being dear to me for family reasons I am proud of you as a member of Sisters of St Joseph and Mary MacKillop's care for those travelling and arriving by sea. Kay rsj"
- Kay McPadden, 19-12-2010