International Mass for Seafarers

The Revd Jamie Johnston, The Anglican Chaplain at All Saints' Marseille shares this story with us:

On Saturday, 6 February a new monthly online International Mass for seafarers was launched on YouTube, streamed live from the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseille at 09h00 (CET).

Welcoming fellow clergy from across Marseille, including our Chaplain, Jamie Johnston and Recteur of Notre-Dame de la Garde, Olivier Spinoza, spoke of the Basilica’s vocation as the ‘Cathedral for Seafarers’. He recalled that prayers have been offered for their protection and wellbeing on the site of the Basilica since the 15th century, and that for the last 150 years the statue of Notre-Dame holding the infant Christ looking out to sea has been experienced by seafarers from across the world as a source of blessing.

The monthly Mass, which takes place in English, is intended for sailors anywhere in the world who are unable to leave their ships because of the pandemic. Many have suffered great hardship through the months of lockdown, thousands of miles from family and friends, uncertain when they may be able to return home, meanwhile confined to small cabins with little by way of support available to assist their mental and emotional wellbeing.

Reflecting on the service afterwards, Jamie commented: 

"There was a tangible sense of the seafarers sharing the Mass with us, despite the distance that separated us from them. The prayer of Spiritual Communion (which is used where worshippers cannot share bread and wine together in person) was recited in seven different languages – French, English, Spanish, Italian, Ukrainian, Russian and Swahili – itself a comment on the huge international mix of seafarers who in normal times visit the Seamen’s Club in the port of Marseille. God’s Kingdom is infinite and borderless: what the pandemic has taught us is that technology can help us witness to that truth and celebrate it even in the darkest of times."

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