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Religious ceremony grants favour to seafarers

The Blessing of the Fleet has occurred annually since 2002 in Thunder Bay.
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blessing of sea
Rev. Ed Swayze blesses a group of seafarers at the Marina Park pier on Saturday. (Michael Charlebois, tbnewswatch)

THUNDER BAY -- The water, despite our long history with it, can be unfamiliar, misunderstood, and life-threatening.

That’s why Rev. Ed Swayze provides seafarers with his blessing each year at the Marina Park.

“I’m a sailor in my own right,” Swayze said. “I’ve been through storms, and big waves, and I’ve been afraid. You’ve just got to hang on and keep going. You can’t lose your nerve.”

The Mission to the Seafarers is an outreach of the Anglican Church that has existed in Thunder Bay since 1961.

They minister the needs of the marine community with a focus on sailors from ocean-going ships.

On Saturday, Swayze blessed these sailors with a cedar balm as they passed his ship at Pier 3 at Marina Park.

Swayze, like other members of The Mission to Seafarers, rely on faith to give them a helping hand when out at sea.

“Faith gives us resiliency in dealing with challenges,” he said. “When you’re in a dangerous situation, you have to respond in order to keep yourself safe and the ship safe.”

Les Newman, who was the master of ceremonies for the event, said Thunder Bay’s naval history is rich.

“This was a major recruiting centre in World War II for the navy,” Newman said. “And the waterfront has always been active and vibrant with commercial and recreational boating.”

“We wish favour and keep prayer not just for us, but the entire maritime community in Thunder Bay,” Swayze said.




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