This was an Easter like no other. No new fire or Exsultet, but everything else - and at the right time, too. We began the First Mass of Easter at 23.30 on Saturday, when more of the Crew were free from their secular duties. Earlier that day P&Os' Adonia had returned from a cruise.. The crew - Stewards, Waiters,Cooks, everyone indeed, had helped those passengers off with their luggage, cleaned throughout, then made it seem as though those joining for the next cruise were the most welcome sight in the world. By late evening they must have been exhausted - but they were determined to have a real Easter celebration..
The choir after the Midnight Mass
The crew are mostly from Goa: very proud of their forebears having been converted to Christianity by Jesuits and Franciscans in the sixteenth century. When they might have pleaded tiredness and a need to get to bed, with another long and tough day ahead, they even produced a choir, and sang a capella throughout the Mass - Introit, Kyrie, Offertory, Post-Communion. It was a quite unforgettable Easter, one of my best ever.
A dining room became our chapel
Each morning I was able to say Mass for the Passengers - only a handful attended, never more than a dozen. But on three of the four evenings I was on board we sang a late evening Mass for Crew members. Then on Wednesday we bade a sad farewell. That afternoon Jane and I went up to a bird sanctuary on one of the volcanic hills above the town centre of Porto Santo, and had a view of Adonia as she made her way towards Madeira. The next time the crew will have a chaplain resident on the ship will be at Christmas. Please remember to pray for them, and for the ministry of the Port Chaplains of the Apostleship of the Sea.