By Tommy Wellsy
Seward Phoenix Log 

'Blessing of the Fleet' kicks off opening weekend


Tommy Wells

Father Richard Tiro casts blessed water toward the boats in the Seward boat harbor during the 'Blessing of the Fleet' ceremony on Saturday. The annual event drew a large crowd.

A large number of local residents joined with several visitors at the Small Boat Harbor on Saturday afternoon to help usher in the summer season with the annual Blessing of the Fleet ceremony. In all, more than two dozen people participated in the event.

The ceremony, which was part of a multitude of events during the Seward Mermaid Festival, including the placing of a plaque at the Seward Mariner's Monument.

"It is always a joy to do this," said Father Richard Tiro, the pastor at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. "It brings together people to remember their loved ones, and to remember the joys and the trials of the sea. This is an opportunity to ask the Lord to keep everyone safe."

During the ceremony Tiro and Father Bill Hanrahan read several passages asking for divine intervention for the safety and well-being of the boats in the harbor, and led a recital of "The Gospel of the Lord," "The Lord's Prayer" and the "Prayer of Blessing."

"God of boundless love at the beginning of creation, your spirt hovered over the deep. You called forth every creature. The seas teemed with life. Through your son, Jesus Christ, you have given us the rich harvest of salvation. Bless these boats and equipment, and all who will use them. Protect them from the dangers of wind and rain and all of the perils of the deep.. May Christ who calm the storm and fill the nets of his disciples and bring us all to the harbor of life and peace. We ask this Christ, our Lord. Amen."

Shortly afterward, Tiro stepped forward and cast blessed water toward the fleet of boats in the harbor, offering up with a smile that "the wind was blowing it (the water) all the way across."

Early in the ceremony, Tiro and Hanrahan reminded those in attendance to believe in the Lord's power.

"Jesus said to them, 'Why are you terrified? O you of little faith' Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea. There was a great calm. They were amazed and said, 'What sort of man is this who even the winds and the sea obey."

Prior to delivering the blessing Tiro and Hanrahan had presided over a small ceremony at the Mariner's Monument in which a plaque was installed honoring locals who have died while on the water.

"It is always nice to come out and do this, and to thank the Lord for what we have and ask for his blessings on the boats and the people who use them," Tiro said.

Tommy Wells

Father Richard Tiro (far right) and Father Bill Hanrahan held the annual "Blessing of the Fleet" ceremony at the boat harbor on Saturday.


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