It was Iwer George who recently sang a song urging party-goers to “come in front for your blessing, your water blessing.” However, those lyrics took on a whole new meaning for some as they received an actual surprise and unplanned blessing from a priest on the weekend.
Parish priest of the St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Carenage, Fr Harold Imamshah, told Guardian Media that on Saturday, he went to Turtle Bay, Monos Island, to hold one of his regular bi-weekly masses.
And in a spur-of-the-moment decision, he said someone in a boat took him to some of the boats that were anchored there.
The plan was to bless the boats of the people who attended the mass but he encountered others there and decided to spread the blessings.
“I also figured, well, all of the people who come to those masses, they have boats, they arrive in boats, so I invited them to bring their boats to be blessed that day...I dare say that the party boats were not going to mass, but I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see their respect, bowing for the blessings and receiving them,” Fr Imamshah said.
Fr Imamshah explained that by the time he had finished inviting each party boat to be blessed, he must have blessed about 20 boats.
“I have to say I was very touched by everybody’s response because they were so thrilled at having a blessing and having their friends blessed, they joked about sprinkling more water on their friends because they needed more blessing,” he added.
He said while the blessing of boats is not a new phenomenon, encountering and interacting with party-goers was a first.
“I didn’t think that they would accept the blessing or that they would be okay with it. I was shocked to see how thrilled every party boat was, there was nobody who refused,” he said.
Of course, the dress code for the party-goers was a far cry away from what is the norm to enter a church, but Fr Imamshah paid it no mind.
“I guess they must have thought that I was over-dressed (laughter), I actually did not give it a thought because that is how they were dressed at sea.”
He said he plans to do it again next year.
The following day it was the fishermen’s turn to have their vessels blessed, a tradition carried out by the St Peter’s parish.
“I have to say that I am actually very thrilled with the excitement that the boatmen show because they don’t just come out to have the boats blessed, they make circles around the boat that the priest uses.”
That activity was part of the Feast of St Peter and St Paul, which is celebrated on June 29, but actually kicked off in Carenage the weekend before.
Some of the other events that took place last week include a mass and confession service, a fisherfolk mass, crusades, a scavenger hunt and a bingo game.
Fr Imamshah felt this year was the greatest he has experienced for the spirit of festivities.
“This year was just so wonderful and I believe that with all of our processions and crusades, people were happy to come out of the COVID times, out of the lockdown times, so they were glad to celebrate.”
The theme this year was “Building the Family.”