Masses held despite normal Blessing of the Fishing Fleet festivities cancellations

29 Oct 2020

By Amanda Murthy

The Italian Catholic community gathered for the Blessing of the Fishing Fleet Festival, a well-established religious and civic tradition in the City of Fremantle for the past 72 years, on Sunday, 18 October at the Basilica of St Patrick in Fremantle. Photo: Sourced.

The Italian Catholic community has this month gathered for an unusually lacklustre Blessing of the Fishing Fleet Festival because of COVID-19 social distancing measures.

This year, the pandemic has caused the usual two-kilometre parade through the streets of Fremantle – with the Madonna dei Martiri (Our Lady of Martyrs) and Madonna di Capo D’Orlando statues, the firework display, along with other social activities leading up to the day – to be cancelled.

However, this did not stop the community from having a meaningful celebration, with the triduum Masses taking place from 14 to 16 October at 7.30pm daily, followed by a 9.30am Mass on 18 October in Italian language celebrated by Geraldton Bishop Emeritus Justin Bianchini in the presence of the Italian Consul and other dignitaries at Saint Patrick’s Basilica.

In his homily, Bishop Bianchini paid homage to the Blessed Mother of Jesus, reflecting on her exemplary faith and trust that she never failed to place in God, even in the many uncertainties she faced in her earthly life.

“Today we are here to ask the intercession and prayer from God, for a fruitful year ahead for our brothers and sisters at sea,” he said.

“Just as we honour Mother Mary, who in her own earthly life, faced much uncertainty but always chose to put all her faith and trust in God’s hands.

“Some examples of the uncertainties that Mary had to face, that we understand from Scripture, speaks of a young Mary, who had chosen to give her life totally to God, with the possibility of never having a family,” Bishop Bianchini added.

“Then came the news that the virgin would have a baby, and that the child would be the Son of God and rule over Israel forever.”

The committee for the annual Blessing of the Fishing Fleet Festival, held on Sunday, 18 October at the Basilica of St Patrick in Fremantle. Photo: Supplied.

Bishop Bianchini went on to explain the following events where Mother Mary would overcome the uncertainties in her life after the birth of Jesus.

“When Jesus was presented in the temple, we read in the Gospel of Luke that when Simeon [a righteous and devout man] took Jesus in his arms, then blessing the parents, said to them: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against,so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too’.

“This would have created a feeling of uncertainty in the heart of Mary, but she knew that God would accompany her through it all.

“Then of course, there was the crucifixion and death of Jesus and we see how Mary dealt with all of this, with so much courage and trust in God.

“This is why Mother Mary was and is the perfect model of someone with a trusting-faith for all of us, who not only face uncertainties in COVID-19 times, but also in the course of our lives and work,” he concluded.

At the conclusion of Mass, the congregation gathered for morning tea before heading to the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour for the traditional Blessing of the Fleet.