Patrick and Isobel, our Education Volunteers from Waterlooville, had the honour of attending the annual Sea Sunday celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist in Portsmouth last Sunday.
Patrick told us,
“Commander Ian Crabtree, Pastoral Assistant Royal Navy Catholic Chaplaincy, organised the event and co-ordinated members of the ‘Senior Service’ in readings, prayers of the faithful and the offertory procession. This was, as always, a memorable and emotional celebration where we pray for all seafarers, and their families, whose livelihoods are made upon the high seas.”
“We also prayed for those members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines who protect and preserve the rights of those who ply the oceans upon their rightful passage and in the service of their country. There were even serving members of the French Navy present.
“Mgr Andrew McFadden, Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain (Royal Navy), celebrated Mass and spoke of this Holy Year of Mercy in his Homily, encouraging us to follow the example of the Good Samaritan in our daily lives. Mgr. McFadden then went on to tell the story of the Lampedusa Cross and commended to our prayers all those refugees who risk their lives in seeking safety and freedom – who are ‘those in peril on the sea’.
The prayers of the faithful were combined with the presentation of special ‘nautical gifts’ as significant symbols in the offertory procession. The white ensign (the flag of the royal navy) was the first to be presented and depicts a multitude of crosses. A ship’s lantern was then presented depicting safety at sea and lighting our way through life. This was followed by a sextant, which in the hands of seaman, helps to plan a safe passage and a ship’s bell was presented to depict the passage of time.
Finally, the Cathedral’s newly-acquired Lampedusa Cross was brought up to the altar. The story of the making of this cross is highly significant.
On the 3rd October 2013, a boat carrying 500 refugees from Eritrea and Somalia, sank off the little island of Lampedusa between Tunisia and Sicily. Only 151 people survived. The local carpenter on Lampedusa met some of the survivors and then went and collected some of the wreckage of the boat. He made crosses for the survivors as a symbol of hope for the future.
“It was particularly fitting that the significance of the cross, and the hope that it represents to refugees and to all of us, should be so recognised on this very special Sea Sunday. In the words of The Naval Hymn, “Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, For those in peril on the sea!”
Thank you very much Patrick for sending us these photos. We’re so pleased the Lampedusa Cross was made part of this very special Mass.