BY Peter Diamond | July 12 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

5 boats

Annual ‘blessing of the boats’ event takes place in Castlebay

An annual ‘blessing of the boats’ took place in the Isles last week, allowing the sick and housebound to receive the Eucharist amid the glorious sunshine.

The fishermen’s Mass took place on Sunday July 7 in Castlebay. The community of Barra and Vatersay turned out in ‘good numbers’ for the event, which catered for those from ‘all faiths and none.’

Fr John Paul MacKinnon, parish priest of the churches on the Isle of Barra, said the event has been running for a long time and that preparations included decorating the altar with flowers, crab traps and ‘making it look as if the sea was coming out from the sanctuary.’

Fr MacKinnon was joined by Fr Ross Crichton for the annual event.



“We prayed for the safety of the boats as we know the life at sea can be dangerous at times,” Fr MacKinnon said.

“Fishing and boating is one of the main employers here and it is an industry which is very much relied upon.

“The Mass is very special because the set-up allows all people—housebound, healthy, young and old—to attend.

“The Mass is celebrated from the side of a lorry which is transformed into a sanctuary at the pier.

“Those sick or housebound attend in cars with their loved ones and can park amongst the congregation and just roll the window down and take part.”



Following the Mass, the two priests made their way down to the boats and blessed them with holy water.

Fr MacKinnon added: “It’s a really colourful spectacle with all the boats decorated and afterwards the children and families get to go a cruise on the boats around the bay.”

After the Mass the community enjoyed fried fresh herring and boiled potatoes on the pier side.

Fr Ross Crichton, parish priest in Eriskay, will be celebrating the annual fisherman’s Mass next Sunday July 21.


Catholic identity

Fr Crichton said: “As always, the Barra Mass was very well attended, with the good weather drawing out many visitors on the island.

“These events always emphasise the Catholic identity of our communities and how the Faith is woven into the fabric of professional and social life in the Hebrides.”

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