Did you know that the Port of Newcastle is the biggest bulk shipping port on the east coast of Australia with 20 operational berths and over 2000 visits per year? And what do you know about the people who keep this industry moving? Seafarers may not see their families and loved ones for months at a time. They earn low wages and endure poorer living conditions than most, but they are the people who make those monstrous vessels we constantly see on the horizon move effortlessly.
Mission to Seafarers (MTS) is an organisation that aims to provide a “home away from home” for the men who arrive on these ships. Volunteer based, MTS provides free transport, food, clothing, and much more to make a real difference in the lives of seafarers.
MTS was established in 1856 and adopted the flying angel as its symbol, inspired by a verse from the Book of Revelation (14:60): “Then I saw a flying angel in mid-heaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those on earth, to every nation and tribe, language and people”.
My experience at the Mission was definitely one of the best. Each week for a month I was privileged to climb narrow gangways and enter the close quarters of the seafarers to say hello, provide information about the Mission, and enjoy a cup of tea. I was introduced to random strangers with smiling faces, greasy hands and a wicked sense of humour; who simply wanted to chat and meet someone new.
I was amazed to learn how many services the Mission provides to the seafarer community. They offer meals, transportation, books, clothing, internet access and even a money exchange, and are ready to do anything at any time. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Mission to Seafarers and am proud that the Catholic and Anglican Dioceses and the wider community supports such an extraordinary organisation.