Monday, June 7, 2010

Blessing of the Dillingham, Alaska Fishing Fleet

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett
Pastor: Holy Rosary Mission

Holy Rosary Catholic Church parishioners, Angela and Robert Clark, organized the 23rd annual blessing of the Dillingham fishing fleet. The grand event took place at the Dillingham boat harbor Sunday, June 6th, at 2:00 PM. The event is also a memorial for those lost in the waters of Bristol Bay. Hundreds of people turned out for the occasion.

Retired Archbishop of Anchorage Frank Hurley started the Blessing of the Fleet back in the 1980s. The blessing of the fleet has become the largest yearly community event in the village of Dillingham, Alaska.

Holy Rosary has sponsored the blessing of the fishing fleet since its birth. What makes the event so special is that it is an ecumenical gathering of all the churches in Dillingham. All pastors, elders, priests, and church representatives come together and pray.

Teresa Duncan with accompaniment by Duane Olson, warm up before the fishing fleet blessing. The couple have been asked to play at the fleet blessing for at least 20 of the 23 years. They sang "The Silor's Prayer" for the opening and "Lord You Have Come to the Seashore" at the conclusion of the Blessing.

Here is the list of all of those who were "Lost at Sea."

Peter Pan donated the refreshments.

Theresa and Duane began the Blessing with the opening song "The Sailors Prayer."

After I gave a short introduction and blessed the Dillingham fishing fleet, the representative from the Church of Christ, Bill Gulickson, gave a blessing.

Next up was Elder Allen Miller from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.

Kara Ingram, of Holy Rosary Catholic Church, listens to the blessing with her head bowed in prayer.

From the Bible Fellowship is Pastor Robert Scott.

From the Moravian church, Pastor John Marx delivers a prayer and blessing for the fishermen and all the men and women who have died at sea.

Elder Joseph Chythlook, from the Seventh Day Adventist church is next with a blessing.

Up next is the long time pastor of 10 years, Luisa Hanson of the Trinity Lutheran church.

The Blessing of the Fleet would not be complete without a fishing vessel being towed through the crowd of mourners. Lil Nick makes its way through the crowd.

After the blessings, Jimmy Arkanakyak with guitarist Chris Itumulria played a song in both Yupik and English entitled, "This is What Heaven Means to Me."

After Jimmy and Chris sang, Robert Clark read off the 92 names of those "lost at sea" in the history of Dillingham. While the names were being read, loud claps of thunder could be heard. Thunder is a rare occurrence in the Bristol Bay area.

After Robert Clark read each name, a bell was rang. Official bell ringer this year was Russell Nelson (left). He used a hand bell rather than the bell tower because, well, the bell tower needs a little work.

Near the end of the event, Angela Clark (right) and June Ingram (left) are chosen for the laying of the wreath in the water.

June Ingram has the honors of tossing the wreath into the sea.

Robert Clark sums up with a few announcements and the 2010, 23rd annual blessing of the fleet concludes.

Thank you Holy Rosary for all of your help in organizing this important event, especially Robert and Angela Clark.

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