Annual pilgrimage for the sea services 'brings people together to pray'
The Frederick News-Post, Md.
EMMITSBURG, Md. — Worshippers this weekend headed toward the mountains on a pilgrimage for the sea services.
Sunday afternoon, military members who sail the waters gathered in Emmitsburg to celebrate a mass at the basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Seton, who had two sons in the U.S. Navy, is the patroness of the sea services.
"She well knew the challenges and difficulties of those who serve," Sister Clarisse Correia, Daughter of Charity, said during the mass.
The annual pilgrimage for the sea services is a way to spread awareness of Seton's connection with the military and pray for members of the armed forces, speakers said Sunday.
Learning about a patroness for seafarers can help Catholic sailors, added retired U.S. Navy Adm. William Fallon, chairman of the sponsoring committee for the services. Fallon said at times in his own life, when things have gotten difficult, it has comforted him to think of Seton in heaven advocating for service members.
The mass also is a chance to unite those in the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and Public Health Service.
"It's often a very challenging life for our people," said Fallon. "The opportunity to bring people together to pray ... is something that's very worthwhile."
Seton, who was canonized in 1975, founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's about 200 years ago and was known for her social service, such as establishing a free school for girls.
However, Rob Judge, executive director at the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, said he believes many Catholic service members don't know about Seton's link to the Navy.
About 400 people attended Sunday's mass in the basilica, with many among the crowd in uniform. Fallon said he hopes to expand the service in the future and draw more young people to the event.
Members of the U.S. Naval Academy Catholic Choir sang during mass, and the event began with the presentation of colors by the honor guard.
Bishop Francis DiLorenzo delivered the homily and reflected on the creation of the Navy, Coast Guard and other military branches in America's infancy. Those who guarded the waters played a vital role in protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the fledgling nation.
"You did and do have a mission," he said to members of the Navy during the service. "To maintain the freedom of the seas."