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Introducing the new Chaplain at the Mission to seafarers Port Kembla.

At the Mission to Seafarers, Pastoral Care is a Lifetime Passion for John Kewa. Newly appointed Pastoral Carer at the Mission to Seafarers Port Kembla, John Kewa, was born in a small village in Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea in 1969, and was given the name Ong, which is associated with "the power of the eagle."

He has certainly flown high since then, following a path of Christianity which has led him to a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology, the imminent achievement of a Masters degree and more recently entry into a management course at UOW.

Pastoral care, with particular focus on the seafaring community is John's passion and he would often describe his experience with a smile, "this is not just a job, it is a lifestyle. I call it a pastoral way of living my life". After almost 10 years of involvement in seafarers welfare in Melbourne John has recently moved to Port Kembla to occupy the vacancy left behind by David Masters who has recently retired after running the Mission for 4 years.

John is also a Nautical Institute (UK) accredited Instructor for the Ship Welfare Visitor's Course. He runs this course on behalf of the International Committee of Seafarers Welfare in some of the Missions 26 Centres in Australia. John's role in the business of Port Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care toward the seafaring community is well noted by his colleagues and his consummate skills in this field have been a blessing to many who are involved in the Maritime Ministry. The Mission to Seafarers warmly welcomes John to Port Kembla.

In the 6 months to June 2011, we have had 3544 seafarers visiting the Mission. Of those who have signed the visitors log book, the highest proportion of visitors were Filipinos followed by Chinese. We have also had 1 Brit, 1 Aussie and 3 from USA. Since we started recording shopping trips in June, we have made 57 trips in transporting seafarers to shops.

June and July have had fewer visitors than previous recent months, but unless the rest of the year is lower, the expected 6000 annual figure will be reached fairly easily by Christmas. Planning is already under way for expanding the current Mission building to cater for the expected increase in seafarer numbers in light of the proposed port expansions and increased vessel arrivals per year.

The Mission is forever grateful for the ongoing moral and financial support received from the Sydney Bethel Union and from the local Churches as well as the Port community in caring for the welfare of visiting seafarers in Port Kembla.

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