Servites Help Bring Seafarers into the 21st Century

Jack Rhine, OSSM

May, Queen of the Servants Secular CommunityPalm Bay, FL

 

Since the ministry began in 2000, there has been a Servite presence at the Apostleship of the Sea Center in Port Canaveral Florida. Deacon Bill Wanca, OSSM, Deacon Jack Rhine OSSM, Fr. Carl Feil OSM and about eight others from the Mary, Queen of the Servants Community in Palm Bay, have made the close to 90-mile-round-trip drive on a regular basis to serve the people of the sea.

The center provides a comfortable place for seafarers to worship, relax and most importantly for them, make contact with loved ones at home by phone and over the Internet. Our computer room originally housed a dozen donated computers of various ages, brands and speeds. As better computers were donated, the oldest were taken out of service and given away. There was competition among the seafarers for the use of the four computers equipped with webcams and headsets.

About two years ago, Deacons Bill and Jack started to explore the possibility of a grant from the International Transport Workers(ITF) Seafarers Trust to replace all of the computers with a moder nserver, identical workstations, webcams and secure communications equipment. Quotes from several vendors were included in a grant application that was sent to ITF justifying the need for new computers. The grant was approved!

Close to 50 boxes of computer equipment arrived from Dell in July 2009 and was stacked in our chapel awaiting installation. Our old computers had been on tables providing little privacy fort he seafarers and no way to secure the computers from tampering from behind. Deacon Bill and Bob Olson OSSM built workstations that afford both privacy and physical security. Tony Ferrer OSSM did the network wiring  required. Deacon Jack connected all of the computers to the server, installed and configured software and connected all of the computers to the Internet. As a result, 12 computers are available to the seafarers and an administrative computer is being used to register seafarers each time they visit recording where they are from what they intend to do in the center and make suggestions so services the center provides can be improved. Also, wireless and wired connections support seafarers who bring their own laptops. Computer maintenance can be done centrally from the server. The server can also beaccessed remotely to do network troubleshooting and repair without having tomake the trip to the center.Most of the old computers are being shipped to the Servite sponsored Child Jesus School in Petit Guave, Haiti where they will be put to good use.

Information on the Apostleship of the Sea, Port Canaveral, may be found at http://www.aosportcanaveral.org

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