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Old February 5th, 2006, 09:09 PM
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Default Church services on board?

Does anyone know if Celebrity offers Catholic mass onboard their ships? My mother in law never misses mass and we will be at sea on a Sunday. My travel agent said they only have non-denomination services on days other than holidays, yet last year on the Century my husband attended mass because they had a Priest on board. Thanks!
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Old February 5th, 2006, 09:47 PM
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There could be, but your travel agent is right... other than major holidays it will be hit and miss.. and more than likely non denominational.

You should inform your mother of the possiblities to avoid a problem later.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 01:41 PM
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Patty,

There could be, but your travel agent is right... other than major holidays it will be hit and miss.. and more than likely non denominational.

Celebrity Cruises now provides perhaps the best support for Catholic religions programs of any major cruise line. The line is working very closely with the Stella Maris (literally, "Star of the Sea") Apostleship of the Sea (http://www.stellamaris.net/) to have a Catholic priest travel as a guest of the company on every cruise via a "working vacation" arrangement. The Cruise Director schedules both weekday and Sunday masses and publishes the times in the daily schedule. The Stella Maris Apostleship of the Sea has provided the vestements and furnishings for mass, including a portable altar, for use aboard each ship of Celebrity's fleet. Each ship also has a member of the crew whose duties include setting up and breaking down for mass and maintaining vestements and furinshings. There's also a written policy to standardize the manner of celebration and the distribution of funds received in the collections.

In my experience (six cruises on Celebrity), weekday masses may be either in the morning (usually either 08:00 or 08:30) or in the afternoon (usually around 17:00 or 17:15) when the ship is at sea, and usually take place in the ship's Cinema. If the ship is in port for the full day, though, the mass may be as early as 07:00. Sunday masses may occur either as "masses of anticipation" on Saturday afternoon or on Sunday morning, and may take place in a larger room (usually either the theater or a lounge) because they draw more people. Ships that turn around on Sunday usually have a "mass of anticipatioon" late on Saturday afternoon for the departing passengers and, at least in European ports, a mass late on Sunday afternoon to accommodate the needs of passengers who embarked during the day.

The priest obviously is available to administer the Sacrament of the Sick and, if appropriate, viaticum in case of a medical emergency at sea (he may be ashore if the ship is in port...), and most also seem willing to make appointments for the sacrament of reconcilation if passengers request that sacrament.

Norm.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 08:44 PM
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Norm,

Thank you so much for all the info. I am, however, a little confused. Can I expect that a Priest will be on board my ship, or is it still something that Celebrity is working on?
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Old February 6th, 2006, 09:09 PM
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Patty,

Thank you so much for all the info.

You are most welcome!

I am, however, a little confused. Can I expect that a Priest will be on board my ship, or is it still something that Celebrity is working on?

The Stella Maris Apostleship of the Sea actually handles the scheduling of the priests and verifies with their dioceses or religious orders that they are in good standing. I have not seen anything in writing from either the apostleship or Celebrity Cruises guaranteeing, or even advertising, the presence of a Catholic priest aboard a Celebrity cruise, but I also am not aware of any Celebrity cruise that did not have a Catholic priest aboard since I started cruising with Celebrity a bit over two years ago. We had a priest aboard the ship for each of my six cruises with Celebrity.

I also can tell you that a couple of the priests that I met aboard Celebrity's ships were "retired" priests who were on the ship for three or four consecutive cruises. The Apostolate seems to have a roster of "retired" priests who are readily available and quite willing to fill gaps in the schedule, even on short notice.

The bottom line here is that I cannot give you an iron-clad guarantee that there will be a priest on whichever Celebrity cruise you decide to book because there's invariably some possibility, however slight, that a priest who was scheduled to be on a particular cruise might have to cancel at the last minute and the apostolate won't be able to arrange a substitute. Nonetheless, such an occurance obviously would be the exception reather than the rule.

Norm.
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Old February 7th, 2006, 10:30 AM
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We have been on 10 Celebrity cruises since 1992 and there has always been a priest on board.
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Old February 7th, 2006, 11:09 AM
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Thanks for all your help everyone, I really appreciate it. This board is such a huge help!!!!!
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Old February 8th, 2006, 03:43 PM
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We were on Mercury last month and have been on 4 Celebrity ships previous to that. There has always been a priest on board and ?daily (I think) Catholic services. We are Protestant but once went to the Catholic service anyway, as Celebrity doesn't seem to offer anything else even on Sunday. We have requested they look into this on our evaluation forms. On RCCL, every morning there was a chapel service for the Catholics followed by one for the rest of us. The Protestant service was sometimes led by the Catholic priest as they only afforded one clergy on board and he was allowed to do both. Another time a young female staff member led it. and did a great job. I realize this is not a priority for many people on a cruise, but for some of us Sunday is a day set apart.
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Old February 9th, 2006, 10:58 AM
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On 7 Celebrity cruises there was always a priest for daily mass. I never knew about the Stella Maris, but that is great info! When we were on a 14 day cruise the middle Sunday had Catholic Mass and a non-denomonational service also offered. There were also Saturday Sabbath services but I don't know who officiated at those.
Father Michael Moore was a delightful person with an Irish accent who socialized with the passengers.
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Old February 11th, 2006, 01:13 PM
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We were on the 1-28-06 sailing of the Zenith and yes we had a Catholic priest onboard. He had Mass Sunday morning at 8:30am and we were out of there at 9am. He told us he would be available anytime that we felt that we needed him. He also had a daily Mass (different times each day).
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Old February 12th, 2006, 11:51 PM
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suebee1960,

He had Mass Sunday morning at 8:30am and we were out of there at 9am.

Ouch!

I know that it is not your fault, but a Sunday mass in thirty minutes is the height of negligence on the part of the priest. There is no way to celebrate a Sunday mass properly in thirty minutes, even with only a hundred or so participants. You and all of the other passengers who were there deserve better.

Norm,

Whose second master's degree is in theology with very heavy concentration in liturgy and sacraments....
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Old February 28th, 2006, 04:57 PM
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Norm, I guess if your worship is dependent on liturgical service and process, half an hour is short. If your purpose for being in the chapel is to commune with God, renew a right Sprit within you and pray both intercessory and personal prayer, it can be done. Be glad Celebrity supports Catholic services and always has a priest on board. the rest of us are not so lucky...or blessed. I'm sure they have determined that lengthy church services would not be well attended, when there are ports to see and things to do. Nevertheless, a nice way to star your day even if it is just half an hour.
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Old February 28th, 2006, 07:36 PM
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kd,

I guess if your worship is dependent on liturgical service and process, half an hour is short. If your purpose for being in the chapel is to commune with God, renew a right Sprit within you and pray both intercessory and personal prayer, it can be done.

From a theological perspective, prayer -- most especially including the prayer of the whole church, which is the liturgy -- should never, ever, ever be rushed. One half hour is generally fine for masses on weekdays, which have only two scripture readings, which properly omit the Gloria and the Credo, and which have relatively few participants (and thus relatively few communicants). On Sundays and holy days, however, the additional elements and the larger numbers make it impossible to celebrate the mass in accordance wth current liturgical directives in thirty minutes. Note, also, that periods of silence for examination of consicence during the penitential rite and for individual reflection after each reading from scripture, after the homily, and after communion are now mandatory, so even their omission is an abuse.

That said, let me be clear that I have not noticed a problem in any of the five cruises that I have taken since the cruise on which we had only thirty minutes for the celebration of Sunday mass, so our feedback seems to be doing some good. I applaud Celebrity Cruises not only for providing Catholic chaplains and supporting communal worship, but also for making a sincere effort to to this properly. There is a learning curve in the process.

Be glad Celebrity supports Catholic services and always has a priest on board. the rest of us are not so lucky...or blessed. I'm sure they have determined that lengthy church services would not be well attended, when there are ports to see and things to do. Nevertheless, a nice way to star your day even if it is just half an hour.

I think that Celebrity wants to support Protestant Christians, too. Unfortunately, there are some sticky interdenominaitonal problems in doing so.

>> 1. There are so many Protestant denominations in North America that provision of a chaplain for each denomination would fill each ship, leaving no reoom for revenue passengers.

>> 2. Many fundamentalist preachers whose denominatons ordain them after graduation from a "bible colleges" (rather than a seminary) tend to have a "my way or the highway" approach that is unacceptable, and sometimes even offensive, to members of mainstream, evangelical, and pentecostal denominations.

>> 3. Preachers from pentecostal denominations have a style that's offensive to many mainstream and evengelical Christians who lack their understanding of the charisms of the Holy Spirit.

>> 4. There's also the problem of pesudo-Christian cults -- Christian Science, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, The Way, etc. -- whose ministers most assuredly would not be acceptable to mainstream, evangelical, pentecostal, or fundamentalist Christians.

>> 5. In the case of Jewish Shabbat services, the cruise lines typically allow a lay passenger to lead the service in the absence of a rabbi. Celebrity used to do this with Protestant services, too, but they received more than a few complaints about lay leaders distorting scripture, preaching inappropriately, etc., and finally condluded that such an option was not workable because there was no adequate way to screen those who would lead the service to ensure suitability.

These problems are not exactly unique to cruising. The U. S. Armed Forces have long faced similar difficulties, which they generally circumvent by (1) allocating chaplains in proportion to the denominational affiliations of the members of the respective services and (2) requiring all chaplains to have seminary degrees and denominational accreditation. It would be much more difficult -- and probably way too costly -- for a cruise line to implement such requirements with a "working vacation" arrangement whereby every cruise has a new chaplain. Note that the Stella Maris Apostleship of the Sea handles all of this for the Catholic chaplains.

Celebrity seems to have concluded that the best possible accommodation for Protestant Christians, at least for now, is to ask the Catholic Chaplain to lead an interdenominatoinal service on Sundays for Protestant Christians who wish an alternative to the Catholic Mass. Most of the Catholic chaplains seem to preach about as well as many mainstream Protestant ministers, so the message is probably orthodox as a rule. At the very least, they will incorporate readings from scripture so there will be something that you can take with you.

If you have any suggestions as to a better way to accommodate Protestant Christians that won't encounter the difficulties that I enumerated above, I'm sure that Celebrity Cruises would be quite interested!

I should also mention that Catholic chaplains aboard ship can give communion, etc., to members of the Orthodox Communion, the Armenian Church, the Assyrian Church, the Coptic Church, the Old Catholic Communion (including the Polish National Catholic Church of America), and the so-called "Society of St. Pius X" who freely ask for them during a cruise. Thus, the provision of a Catholic chaplain also meets the spiritual needs of members of these denominaiions.

Norm.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 11:04 AM
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Well Norm, you know your theology, although your evaluation of the Protestant denominations, Bible Schools etc. is a little askew. But we won't get into that. My point was that man-made rituals and observances are not the focus of my attendance in a chapel service. During our cruise in January, we called home to discover that our son-in-law (28, with a wife and 2 yr old and a baby on the way) was undergoing emergency surgery for a brain tumor and also had 2 other tumors that were inoperable. We needed comfort, love and hope from God. It would have been nice to have a spiritual leader on board with us. In the past, we have sat under the preaching of a Catholic priest in a Protestant service who did well, and made an effort to reach us where we do indeed have common ground in our worship. We have also had a cruise staff member who led the service and spoke very well. I was told by the priest (RCCL)that the reason he led the Protestant service was that the cruise company would often only pay for one clergy on board. He was allowed to hold a Protestant service, but a Protestant clergy would not be allowed to give a Catholic mass. I have no further comments on this subject. Have a nice day.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 06:15 PM
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kd,

... you know your theology, although your evaluation of the Protestant denominations, Bible Schools etc. is a little askew. But we won't get into that.

Thanks for your kind words!

I'm obviously taking some license in painting with a broad brush to summarize the issues that exist in trying to organize Protestant services, but those issues are very real. There's quite a bit of diversity even within each of the broad categories ("mainstream," "evangelical," "penetcostal," and "fundamentalist") of my summary. Nonetheless, the issues that I identified in my earlier post are very real.

From the perspective of a cruise line, BTW, complaints from passengers that another pssenger who volunteered to lead a service preached a message that was not orthodox, or conducted the service in a manner that's contrary to scripture, or committed any other sort of theological or liturgical impropriety are a source of great difficulty. It's too late to undo the act, which comes across as representing the cruise line, and the cruise line is not in a position to be an arbiter of theological disuptes. Thus, Celebrity has chosen to avoid such problems by not allowing passengers to volunteer to conduct Protestant services.

My point was that man-made rituals and observances are not the focus of my attendance in a chapel service.

Were a ritual man-made, your point would be valid. As it is, the entire format of the Catholic mass is scriptural -- the exposition of the Word of God and the partaking of the Lord's Supper, as occurs in the Emmaus account.

During our cruise in January, we called home to discover that our son-in-law (28, with a wife and 2 yr old and a baby on the way) was undergoing emergency surgery for a brain tumor and also had 2 other tumors that were inoperable. We needed comfort, love and hope from God. It would have been nice to have a spiritual leader on board with us.

I'm very sorry to hear of your son-in-law's plight. I lost a very close family friend to an inoperable brain tumor about fourteen years ago, so I understand how awful it is to get news like that. (He had a pregnant wife, a seven-year-old, and a three-year-old at the time of his diagnosis, so he left an eight-year-old, a four-year-old, and a six-month-old when he died a year later.) I'll be praying that you and your family are finding comfort and consolation in God's love as you live through this difficult situation!

I also would hope that any ordained Christian minister would provide spiritual assistance in a situation like that, regardless of whether he or she is officially the chaplain for a cruise or not.

In the past, we have sat under the preaching of a Catholic priest in a Protestant service who did well, and made an effort to reach us where we do indeed have common ground in our worship.

I'm glad that he made a sincere effort!

I would not expect to find much difference between an interdenominational service lead by a Catholic minister and an interdenominational service lead by, say, a Lutheran minister. One would notice a lot more difference if the leader were, say, a Southern Baptist minister or a minister of the Assemblies of God....

We have also had a cruise staff member who led the service and spoke very well.

Yes, Princess Cruises often did allow a member of the crew to lead an interdenominational service. Of course, there's a difference -- the cruise line can verify the competence and suitability of an employee much more easily than it can verify the competence and suitability of a passenger who volunteers a few hours before the service.

I was told by the priest (RCCL)that the reason he led the Protestant service was that the cruise company would often only pay for one clergy on board. He was allowed to hold a Protestant service, but a Protestant clergy would not be allowed to give a Catholic mass.

It's certainly true that a Protesant minister could not lead the Catholic mass (or, for that matter, or the divine liturgy of the Orthodox Communion, or the equivalent services of the other non-Protestant denominations, whom the Catholic chaplain also accommodates).

That said, the cruise line does not pay the Catholic chaplain. The only provision is a complementary cabin for himself and, optioanlly, a guest. The cabin may be "below decks" in the area reserved for crew or entertainers, so there's no loss of revenue. My guess is that provision of a second cabin for a Protestant chaplain would not be a problem if there were a satisfactory resolution to the interdenominational disagreements.

Have a nice day.

And you also!

Norm.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 06:53 PM
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Hi Norm,

Just an FYI, if you're interested! Almost any Jew who regularly attends services could lead a Jewish service. Lay leaders (called Gabbi's) and congregants participate in much of the service at Temple or Synagogue. Any Jew would be familiar with the service even if it's not done exactly the same way they're used to at home.

Even at home, services go on whether there's a Rabbi there or not. In some small congregations only the Rabbi knows how to read the Torah, so that part might be left out, but most congregations have at least one other person who is able to do this.

I enjoyed your informative posts.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 07:04 PM
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Fern,

Just an FYI, if you're interested!

I'm very interested because your faith is part of our faith, too!

Almost any Jew who regularly attends services could lead a Jewish service.... Any Jew would be familiar with the service even if it's not done exactly the same way they're used to at home.

Yes, I was pretty much aware of that -- but it's good that you shared it for anybody following this discussion who might not have known. I'm guessing that the shabbat service is also essentially the same across all sects of Judaism, or at least across all sects that actually would take a cruise, so sectarian differences are not a problem.

Theoretically, any member of the Catholic Church should be able to lead a lay service in the absence of clergy, too, and it's unfortunate that many are not adequately trained to do so.

I enjoyed your informative posts.

Thank you for your kind words!

Happy cruising!

Norm.
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