The tradition of the annual Blessing of the Fleet in Stonington continued this year, albeit with a much smaller crowd and scaled-back ceremonies.
The blessing remembers local fishermen who have died at sea and honors the vessels -- along with their captains, owners, crews and families -- that will go out to sea in the year ahead.
The gathering took place July 26 after a Fishermen’s Mass in St. Mary Church in Stonington Borough. The Mass was streamed live on the internet for the many who could not attend because of COVID-19 restrictions on public assemblies.
Following the Mass, The Reverend Dennis Perkins and the Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, D.D., Bishop of Norwich, joined the families of fishermen and local officials at the borough’s fishing dock.
Bishop Cote said a blessing for the safety of the fishermen and the important but sometimes dangerous work that they do on the water, and family members of deceased fishermen laid wreaths at the fishermen’s memorial. The Mystic Highland Pipe Band was on hand to play ‘Amazing Grace.’
After the ceremony, Bishop Cote walked to each fishing boat at the docks and blessed it with holy water. Then, the Bishop joined some of the fishermen and their families on the fishing vessel Heritage, which steamed out past the breakwater. There, a wreath in the shape of a broken anchor, commemorating the 39 members of the Stonington Fishermen Association who perished at sea while doing their jobs, was cast into the water.
-- By Ryan Blessing