Father Martino has been a counsellor and friend to seafarers all his life; first as chaplain on board ships, then as port chaplain, and lastly as National Director of the AOS in Italy, which is responsible for the 35 Stella Maris Centres in Italian ports. As the leading force behind the creation of the National Committee of Seafarers’ Welfare in Italy in 2006, and setting up of more than 20 local boards in the most important Italian ports, he is described as the father of seafarers in Italy.
He has brought improved welfare services to more than 12,000 seafarers every day through his dedicated campaign for the introduction of On board Welfare Officers, which have been successfully adopted on many vessels. His nomination suggests that the award to Father Martino would represent his lifetime achievements both as a frontline welfare worker and policy maker.
Dennis has been at the forefront of welfare services provision to seafarers visiting Western Australia for over 20 years. As an active member of the Australian Council of the Mission to Seafarers, he worked hard to rescue the Flying Angel Club in his home town, Freemantle, from imminent closure some years back and was instrumental in restoring it to today’s vibrant and successful enterprise. Dennis splits his time between his local parish commitments and the Flying Angel Club where he works for no financial remuneration.
He has raised significant funds to equip the club with state of the art communication facilities and manages the employment of ten paid skilled staff members dedicated to meeting the many and varied needs of all visiting seafarers to Fremantle. His dedication, humility and common sense approach to running the Club have turned it into a well-regarded seafarers’ mission in the maritime sector of Australia. With a keen sense of justice and fairness, Dennis has on many occasions successfully achieved justice for seafarers in difficult situations and was the driving force behind the formation of the Fremantle Port Welfare Committee, for which he now serves as Secretary.