Raby Bay's Father Bill Pearson honoured for 45 years of service to seafarers

PROUD: Father Bill Pearson with wife Lorna.
PROUD: Father Bill Pearson with wife Lorna.

A RABY Bay priest has been honoured by the highest figure in the Brisbane Anglican church for 45 years of service to the Mission to Seafarers, including his work helping to honour fallen sailors.

Father Bill Pearson was presented with a certificate by Brisbane archbishop Phillip Aspinall at the annual seafarers' memorial service earlier this month, which also marked his retirement from the Seafarers' Day committee.

It came as he prepares to celebrate 60 years in the church, having been ordained as a deacon in Townsville on December 6, 1959.

"That happened to be the feast day of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of sailors (who was) the dedication saint of the Mission to Seafarers chapel that I was to be in charge of for the next three years," he said.

He said he had always had a connection to the sea, having been born in the great British seafaring city of Liverpool.

After serving with the navy and in various Queensland parishes for nearly three decades, he was recalled to Mission to Seafarers as a senior chaplain and head of the Mission to Seafarers Brisbane.

"The great shock for me when I returned to the MTS was containers," he said.

"In Townsville it was common for general cargo vessels to be in port for at least two weeks, not the few hours of today."

In his job, Father Bill provided spiritual support for seafarers who often spent long periods away from home.

"The mission in Townsville was open from 10am to 10pm...365 days," he said.

"The weekly program was three nights dances, partners provided by the Ladies' Harbour Lights Guild, with the other four nights movies."

The mission consisted of a hall, lounge, chapel, canteen and library and Father Bill and his family lived in the flat within the complex.

Wife Lorna kept the mission opening during the day while Father Bill was out fulfilling his other chaplaincy duties.

He also visited about 300 ships per year, as well as hospitals, jails and watch houses.