by Susan Huppert, NAMMA
Thanksgiving filled the bridge of M/V Bow Star as the Reverend Brendan J. Cahill, bishop promoter for Stella Maris celebrated Mass with 13 Filipino seafarers at Point Comfort, Texas, the first week of November.
“It was a mesmerizing experience to watch the bishop celebrate the Holy Eucharist on the bridge with the seafarers,” said Rhonda Cummins, ship visitor at the Port of Point Comfort. “He was so attentive to their needs and they were so respectful and gracious for the opportunity.”
Meeting the spiritual needs of others is a practice like no other.
In Point Comfort, Cummins visits each ship that docks and often calls on ministry partners to celebrate Mass when the ship captain requests. Due to changing arrival times for the M/V Bow Star it was a bit of a dance to find an available candidate. Thankfully, when the ship finally arrived, Bishop Cahill and two co-workers were available to take the nearly hour-long drive to provide for the seafarers’ spiritual needs on a chemical tanker.
“This was the first time and we were so excited,” said Cahill. “We had been talking about celebrating Mass for seafarers for about a year.”
Deacon Eddie Huse serves the Victoria parish of Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. This was his initial ministry opportunity on board.
“It was a blessing to see the faces, to meet the young crew, and to understand what these men supply us,” said Huse. “The seafarers were very reverent. We had worship aids. They knew all the prayers. It was not lost on them.”
Serving seafarers is a cultural walk.
“I was struck by the universal nature of our faith. It impressed me to see people from the Philippines worshipping the same as we are,” he said. “It is still the Mass.”
Sister Rosario Resendez serves the Diocese of Victoria, with Bishop Cahill and was able to accompany the bishop.
“I wanted to go because I heard it had been a long while without communion for these men,” said Resendez. “We always have the sacraments. I wanted to be with those who hadn’t.”
The first time on a vessel in this role was eye-opening as she witnessed the “behind the scene” working of the seafarer’s experience on board.
“It was a whole world we didn’t know about,” she said. “The ship was huge, the people were beautiful and their hospitality was huge. They were so grateful the bishop came.”
From the bridge of the large vessel, the guests witnessed a holy moment when a striking evening sky converged with the feeding of spiritually hungry souls.
“It was an experience I will never forget,” said Resendez.