The Blessing of the Boats takes place on the second Sunday of February every year at Island Bay on Wellington’s South Coast.
Local clergy bless a fleet of fishing boats and other sea-craft in this traditional ceremony to grant them ‘safe carriage and plentiful bounties’. The Blessing of the Boats is a southern Italian tradition that dates back to the sixteenth century. Boats are decorated with flags and blessed by a priest to protect the crew from the sea and to bring good fortune.
The ceremony has been adopted in Island Bay by its Italian community since 1933, and when the fishing boat Santina foundered in Cook Strait, with the loss of four crew including three Italians. Island Bay is a small bay where Tapu Te Ranga Island lies 500m offshore, forming a natural breakwater and providing a sheltered anchorage for local fishing boats. Crowds gather on the coastline to watch fishing and other boats being blessed after they’ve circled around Tapu te Ranga Island.
This year, Fr David Dowling, parish priest, St Francis de Sales, Island Bay, and Rev Lance Lukin, Anglican priest and Port Chaplain at Wellington Mission to Seafarers, jointly blessed the boats from the San Antonino – owned and skippered by local Catholic identity Carl Muollo.
Prayer. by Fr David Dowling
God of boundless love, we praise you for your wonderful works and give you glory. We thank you for the sea and the life it contains. Bless these boats and all who work and travel on them. Protect those who fish, give them a bountiful catch and bring them safely back to port. Send your Spirit to be with them to calm every fear and grant them confidence in your loving providence. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Apostleship of the Sea
Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) port chaplains, volunteers and administrators from all over the world will be in Sydney for their biennial regional co-ordinators meeting 6–13 March at the Mary MacKillop Conference Centre in Sydney. This is the first time the conference has been held in the Southern Hemisphere.
As well as representatives from ports in Australia and New Zealand, delegates from UK/ Europe, North America, Latin America, Caribbean, West Africa, the Middle East, India, South-East Asia, Hong Kong and Japan are expected to attend. A party from the Vatican will be led by Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, the international head of AOS.
Discussion will include trends in the shipping industry and their effect on the work of AOS in offering welfare, hospitality and counselling to visiting seafarers of all nationalities and faiths.
The impact of the recently implemented Maritime Labour Convention, developed under the International Labour Organisation, which relates to the working and living conditions of seafarers will also be studied.