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Monday, November 30, 2009

Fixing up the Charnetsky

The Charnetsky arrived some time ago at Papa Stronsay, but has not done any serious service since it was not really in a suitable condition. Over the last few weeks, Father Anthony and David, a postulant from the United States, have been working to get it up to scratch. See some photos of the progress:

David has an engineering degree which is being put to good use!

Fitting one of the new sampson posts. Squashed in the front of the boat, David screws the nuts...

...while Father Anthony holds the bolts to stop them turning.

Sorting out the wiring...

...and a bit of painting.

There's a little way to go yet, but please God she will serve us well in the future.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Good Response to Calendars

We have had a very positive response to our newly published Papa Stronsay Calendar. The first shipment left the island just over a week ago and the following is a kind message we received by email:
"I just wanted to let you know that we today received "The Catholic" and the beautiful Calendar enclosed with it. I wanted to congratulate you on the excellent production, the very high quality of the photographs, and the tasteful layout. In particular, the photographs for January, February and August are both unusual and revealing, something refreshing to see.
... I wanted to add my voice of encouragement, and urge you to continue to produce this Calendar in future years."
Thank you, we are glad that you liked it!
If you have not yet ordered it is still possible to do so as we printed a few more copies over and above the Catholic subscription list and the already received orders.
To read about our calendar please click here.
To facilitate ordering you can now also purchase a calendar via Ebay by clicking here. Or you can use the button located on the left hand column of this blog.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Helping Hand

A few weeks ago, a storm tore some of a local fisherman's crab boxes from their mooring in the harbour and took them out to sea. They eventually washed up on the beach on Papa Stronsay and we were asked if we could retrieve them. Local resident, fisherman and friend to the Monastery, Bill Miller, helped with the job.

The boxes were collected and then brought to the pier.

Fr. Anthony Mary, F.SS.R. and Bill sorted out the boxes. 19 boxes were lost all together...

...12 were able to be saved with their precious contents. Bill checks the contents and secures the lid.

About 7 were broken up and the crab lost.

Fr. Anthony untangled the rope...

...and then the boxes were lowered into the waiting boat.

They were then taken and put back in the sea to keep them fresh.

All done!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Newspaper and Calendar Ready to Ship

The latest Catholic is being sent out at present, but it is not too late to subscribe if you have not yet done so. Use the "Subscribe to the Catholic Newspaper" button on the left of this blog to do so. This edition is graced with a beautiful cover image of the virgin martyr St Agnes, and is, as usual, full of interesting articles, illustration and news.
With this edition each reader is also going to receive a copy of the Papa Stronsay Calendar for 2010. If you would like to order further calendars please use the "Order a 2010 Wall Calendar" button, also on the left of this blog, to do so.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Christ appears to St. Martin

ACCORDINGLY, at a certain period, when he had nothing except his arms and his simple military dress, in the middle of winter, a winter which had shown itself more severe than ordinary, so that the extreme cold was proving fatal to many, he happened to meet at the gate of the city of Amiens a poor man destitute of clothing. He was entreating those that passed by to have compassion upon him, but all passed the wretched man without notice, when Martin, that man full of God, recognized that a being to whom others showed no pity, was, in that respect, left to him. Yet, what should he do? He had nothing except the cloak in which he was clad, for he had already parted with the rest of his garments for similar purposes. Taking, therefore, his sword with which he was girt, he divided his cloak into two equal parts, and gave one part to the poor man, while he again clothed himself with the remainder. Upon this, some of the by-standers laughed, because he was now an unsightly object, and stood out as but partly dressed. Many, however, who were of sounder understanding, groaned deeply because they themselves had done nothing similar. They especially felt this, because, being possessed of more than Martin, they could have clothed the poor man without reducing themselves to nakedness. In the following night, when Martin had resigned himself to sleep, he had a vision of Christ arrayed in that part of his cloak with which he had clothed the poor man. He contemplated the Lord with the greatest attention, and was told to own as his the robe which he had given. Ere long, he heard Jesus saying with a clear voice to the multitude of angels standing round -- "Martin, who is still but a catechumen, clothed me with this robe." The Lord, truly mindful of his own words (who had said when on earth -- "Inasmuch as ye have done these things to one of the least of these, ye have done them unto me"), declared that he himself had been clothed in that poor man; and to confirm the testimony he bore to so good a deed, he condescended to show him himself in that very dress which the poor man had received. After this vision the sainted man was not puffed up with human glory, but, acknowledging the goodness of God in what had been done, and being now of the age of twenty years, he hastened to receive baptism. He did not, however, all at once, retire from military service, yielding to the entreaties of his tribune, whom he admitted to be his familiar tent-companion. For the tribune promised that, after the period of his office had expired, he too would retire from the world. Martin, kept back by the expectation of this event, continued, although but in name, to act the part of a soldier, for nearly two years after he had received baptism.

Martin Retires from Military Service
IN the meantime, as the barbarians were rushing within the two divisions of Gaul, Julian Cæsar, bringing an army together at the city of the Vaugiones, began to distribute a donative to the soldiers. As was the custom in such a case, they were called forward, one by one, until it came to the turn of Martin. Then, indeed, judging it a suitable opportunity for seeking his discharge--for he did not think it would be proper for him, if he were not to continue in the service, to receive a donative--he said to Cæsar, "Hitherto I have served you as a soldier: allow me now to become a soldier to God: let the man who is to serve thee receive thy donative: I am the soldier of Christ: it is not lawful for me to fight." Then truly the tyrant stormed on hearing such words, declaring that, from fear of the battle, which was to take place on the morrow, and not from any religious feeling, Martin withdrew from the service. But Martin, full of courage, yea all the more resolute from the danger that had been set before him, exclaims, "If this conduct of mine is ascribed to cowardice, and not to faith, I will take my stand unarmed before the line of battle tomorrow, and in the name of the Lord Jesus, protected by the sign of the cross, and not by shield or helmet, I will safely penetrate the ranks of the enemy." He is ordered, therefore, to be thrust back into prison, determined on proving his words true by exposing himself unarmed to the barbarians. But, on the following day, the enemy sent ambassadors to treat about peace and surrendered both themselves and all their possessions. In these circumstances who can doubt that this victory was due to the saintly man? It was granted him that he should not be sent unarmed to the fight. And although the good Lord could have preserved his own soldier, even amid the swords and darts of the enemy, yet that his blessed eyes might not be pained by witnessing the death of others, he removed all necessity for fighting. For Christ did not require to secure any other victory in behalf of his own soldier, than that, the enemy being subdued without bloodshed, no one should suffer death.

Martin Converts a Robber
FROM that time quitting military service, Martin earnestly sought after the society of Hilarius, bishop of the city Pictava, whose faith in the things of God was then regarded as of high renown, and in universal esteem. For some time Martin made his abode with him. Now, this same Hilarius, having instituted him in the office of the diaconate, endeavored still more closely to attach him to himself, and to bind him by leading him to take part in Divine service. But when he constantly refused, crying out that he was unworthy, Hilarius, as being a man of deep penetration, perceived that he could only be constrained in this way, if he should lay that sort of office upon him, in discharging which there should seem to be a kind of injury done him. He therefore appointed him to be an exorcist. Martin did not refuse this appointment, from the fear that he might seem to have looked down upon it as somewhat humble. Not long after this, he was warned in a dream that he should visit his native land, and more particularly his parents, who were still involved in heathenism, with a regard for their religious interests. He set forth in accordance with the expressed wish of the holy Hilarius, and, after being adjured by him with many prayers and tears, that he would in due time return. According to report Martin entered on that journey in a melancholy frame of mind, after calling the brethren to witness that many sufferings lay before him. The result fully justified this prediction. For, first of all, having followed some devious paths among the Alps, he fell into the hands of robbers. And when one of them lifted up his axe and poised it above Martin's head, another of them met with his right hand the blow as it fell; nevertheless, having had his hands bound behind his back, he was handed over to one of them to be guarded and stripped. The robber, having led him to a private place apart from the rest, began to enquire of him who he was. Upon this, Martin replied that he was a Christian. The robber next asked him whether he was afraid. Then indeed Martin most courageously replied that he never before had felt so safe, because he knew that the mercy of the Lord would be especially present with him in the midst of trials. He added that he grieved rather for the man in whose hands he was, because, by living a life of robbery, he was showing himself unworthy of the mercy of Christ. And then entering on a discourse concerning Evangelical truth, he preached the word of God to the robber. Why should I delay stating the result? The robber believed; and, after expressing his respect for Martin, he restored him to the way, entreating him to pray the Lord for him. That same robber was afterwards seen leading a religious life; so that, in fact, the narrative I have given above is based upon an account furnished by himself.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Update on the rescued yacht.

We thought that some of our readers might like an update on the yacht which had to be rescued just over a week ago. The following article was written by a Stronsay resident, Bill Miller, who was on board the lifeboat during the rescue. Some of the initial newspaper reports were inaccurate and this is the real story with video, also from Bill Miller of Stronsay:

As dawn broke on the morning of Thursday, 22nd October, Stronsay residents were surprised to see a yacht anchored in the Mill Bay on the East side of Stronsay. Huge waves were entering the bay from the South East, and there was a wall of broken water all the way across the mouth of the bay. It was obvious that the yacht’s sails were in tatters, and there was no sign of any crew on deck.
Concerned for the safety of the crew, a local resident called Shetland Coastguard, who tried to contact the yacht by radio without success, and therefore decided to call out the Kirkwall lifeboat, also directing the Shetland Rescue helicopter to the scene.
On reaching the area, the helicopter crew informed the lifeboat of the severe sea conditions prevailing, and they made a joint decision to abandon an attempt by the lifeboat to reach the yacht. Instead, the helicopter hovered over the yacht until a member of the crew came on deck and then contact was made by radio. The skipper of the yacht informed the helicopter crew that they were quite happy riding out the storm at anchor, and they were waiting for a break in the weather before proceeding on their journey.

The yacht remained at anchor until the early hours of Sunday morning when at 2 am, there was a loud crashing sound, and the crew discovered that the increasing wind had gone more into the East, and the force of the sea had ripped the windlass off its mounting on the bow of the yacht taking the anchor chain over the side. The crew immediately dropped their second anchor, but were forced to let that go too. Without an anchor, they were forced to motor back and forth in the bay, and decided to send out a Mayday signal.
Kirkwall lifeboat under the command of Second Coxswain Stewart Ryrie left Kirkwall with four crew members, and the rescue helicopter left from Shetland.
Shortly after passing the Holm of Huip, the lifeboat suddenly dropped into the trough of a huge wave, and although the crew were strapped in their padded and well-sprung seats, one of the crew, Ian Seatter received a terrific jolt when the lifeboat hit the bottom of the trough, and suffered an injury to his back, resulting in severe pain and restricted mobility.
Coxswain Ryrie immediately decided to head straight for the Stronsay pier to get a doctor to examine his crewman. At about the same time, the helicopter was approaching the area of the stricken yacht, and after the crewman was examined by the local doctor, Doctor George McKay, a decision was made to call the helicopter to airlift Mr Seatter to the Balfour Hospital.
At about 2.30 am, I was awakened by the noise of the helicopter passing low over my house, and on going to investigate, saw the lifeboat at the pier, with the helicopter approaching the vicinity. I immediately drove to the pier where the Harbour Master, Leslie Miller, informed me of the situation, and together we assisted in bringing the winch-man down onto the pier from the helicopter. The wind was so strong that at one stage, the winch guide line was blowing dangerously close to the helicopter’s rear prop, and we were concerned that it would get caught up in the prop with dire consequences for the helicopter itself, or for the winchman.
With some difficulty, the doctor and crew managed to get Mr Seatter onto a spinal board, and he was then winched up into the helicopter and transferred to Kirkwall.
This then left the lifeboat minus a crew member, and on being asked by Stewart Ryrie if I was willing to go with them, I immediately agreed to go along.
The trip around the East side of Papa Stronsay and leading up to the Mill Bay was quite uneventful, with a heavy sea running and an occasional large wave, but with Stewart’s expert handling, and travelling at six or seven knots, we made a reasonably comfortable passage.
On reaching the mouth of the bay, Stewart turned to starboard heading more or less in a Westerly direction. Visibility was zero and it was impossible to see what was following on
behind. Suddenly, we got hit by what must have been a massive following wave, which spun the lifeboat completely around until we were heading in the opposite direction. In fact the lifeboat broached twice as we entered the bay.
On reaching the area where the yacht was motoring back and forth, they shone a light for us to locate them, and we eventually got near enough to attach a line. Stewart decided that for reasons of safety, we would drop anchor and wait for daylight, and this we did, with the yacht safely secured to the stern of the lifeboat.
At first light, we weighed anchor, and it was agreed with the yacht crew that they would follow the lifeboat back to Stronsay Harbour under their own power. As we reached the mouth of the bay we found a gap of about one hundred yards of clear water with broken water on either side, and on heading our through this gap, we encountered a very heavy swell with waves estimated at around fifteen metres.

This video was shot by Bill Miller of Stronsay from the lifeboat during the rescue.

Filmed by Zac, one of the crew.

Again the video is courtesy of Bill Miller.

We continued heading out to the North East until we were far enough out to get a clean run before the waves, down past the Papa lighthouse and around to the safety of the Stronsay Harbour where we arrived shortly after 9 am. On the return journey, both Stewart and I were extremely impressed by the seamanship of the yacht skipper, who handled the boat extremely well under the severe conditions.
The yacht was the Inanna, a 49 feet Bavaria class, registered in Kingstown, St Vincent (for tax reasons) but out of Grenada. The owner/skipper was 43 year old father of three, Jason Evans Baldwin from Grenada, acccompanied by Alex Jones, a 36 year old father of six, also from Grenada, and Zak Harcombe, a 30 year old single man from Litchfield, Staffordshire, who had flown up to Norway last week to join the crew at Stavanger.
They told me how they had set off from Stavanger last Wednesday intending to sail up to Denmark and meet Jason’s seventeen year old son, but after sailing for about 100 nautical miles, they had encountered a force nine gale and all their sails had been ripped to shreds. leaving them no option but to run before the gale, eventually arriving off Stronsay at 2 am on Thursday morning.
By this time, their fuel gauge was showing that they were very low on fuel, and their G.P.S. linked to their computer charts, was experiencing problems with the battery very low, and only four minutes of power left. They were in the middle of seriously large waves which on one occasion just off the mouth of the Mill Bay, laid the yacht right over on its port side.
They felt that if the G.P.S. ran out of power, they would be helpless in the huge seas, and decided to turn into Mill Bay and seek shelter, rather than run on in the hope of gaining the safety of Stronsay Harbour. This they did, and once in the comparatively calmer waters of the bay, dropped anchor for the night.
The next morning, they made phone calls to order new sails from a firm in Fort William, and finding that the anchorage appeared quite safe, and also finding out that their fuel gauge was faulty, and in fact they had plenty of fuel, decided to sit it out until they could get a break in the weather before heading off for Fort William.
When the helicopter appeared hovering above them on Thursday, they were surprised by this, but pleased that someone was concerned enough for their safety, as to cause the Coastguards to be informed. However at this stage, they stated that they were feeling quite safe at anchor and required no further assistance, and the helicopter withdrew.
Although they lay for three days in a heavy swell, the anchor held fine, and they were not concerned about the situation. However, the skipper, who stated that he always looked ahead, and made contingency plans, discussed every possible scenario with the crew and they decided that if the anchor did drag, they would drop a second anchor which he was sure would hold them safely.
At 2 am on Sunday morning, unbeknown to the crew, the wind had gone further into the East, and huge waves were coming straight into the bay, when suddenly there was a terrific crashing sound, and the sound of chains ripping over the bow of the yacht. On investigating this noise, they discovered that the windlass had been completely ripped off its mounting and had fallen down into the windlass locker in the bow of the yacht - the anchor chain had unwound from the windlass, and the anchor and chain were lost over the side. They immediately put their contingency plan into operation, dropping their other anchor, but this would not hold, and eventually they had to let that go also. They then broadcast a “mayday” to Shetland Coastguards and awaited the arrival of the rescue services, fearing that to attempt to leave the bay in the dark, and under these stormy conditions would be possibly fatal. And so they waited for the arrival of the lifeboat.
The skipper and crew have asked me to convey their sincere thanks and gratitude to the crew of the Rescue helicopter, the officers of Shetland Coastguard, and in particular to the Coxswain and crew of the Kirkwall lifeboat who they described as the “heroes of the day”.
They made particular mention of the expertise of Coxswain Stewart Ryrie in the way he lead them safely out though the breakers and in to the safety of Stronsay Harbour. In addition, they expressed their concern for the welfare of crewman Ian Seatter, wishing him a speedy recovery, and they asked me to thank him for his part in their rescue. Ian was detained in Balfour Hospital until Monday afternoon, when he was released, and it is thought and hoped that he will make a full recovery soon.
I would also wish to express my admiration for the cool, calm and professional manner in which Stewart handled the lifeboat, and also for the professionalism and dedication of the crew members who did an excellent job in extremely difficult circumstances. When you witness something like this at first hand as I did, it makes you proud to be associated with such men and this excellent institution.
Jason and his crew intend to stay in Stronsay for several days until they can make a safe passage to Fort William to collect their new sails, and after that - watch this space!

As the Inanna arrived in the Stronsay harbour, we were just arriving on Stronsay for Sunday Mass. Video from Bill Miller.

Yesterday, Wednesday 4th November, the Inanna and her crew left Stronsay for Inverness. We wish them the best of luck, and a safe trip home!

The Inanna rounds Papa Stronsay.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Into a New Year with the Papa Stronsay Calendar

Next year, the Year of Our Lord 2010, is set to be a memorable one.
All kinds of interesting anniversaries occur during its 365 days — we commemorate the 1700th anniversary of the martyrdom of the great St Catherine of Alexandria, 500 years since the death of the friend of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, St Catherine of Genoa, 350 years since the deaths of St Vincent de Paul and St Louise de Marillac, and 500 years since the birth of the great Jesuit St Francis Borgia. Furthermore we continue to join the Church in deepening our understanding and appreciation of the Sacred Priesthood through the Year for Priests.

1950 years ago, next year, the Holy Apostle St Paul was shipwrecked on the Island of Malta and to demonstrate how the Popes hold these anniversaries in veneration, and have done so through the ages, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, will visit that island for the occasion.

For many 2010 will be their first year, for others it will be their last. In it some will give themselves to another in marriage, others will give themselves to God. Some, like Venerable Cardinal Newman will be raised to the Altars as a Blessed. For some the memories of 2010 will never be erased, for others the year will not be able to be forgotten quickly enough.

Time, the messenger of fate!

Cunning master of debate,

Cunning soother of all sorrow,

Ruthless robber of tomorrow,

Tyrant to our dallying feet,

Though patron of a life complete.

Here in the monastery we are busy preparing something new for 2010 — the Papa Stronsay Calendar.

It is the first time we have printed a wall calendar and we hope that it will be for all of our friends and readers an uplifting companion during the forthcoming year. Our calendar shows you the feastdays and holy seasons at a glance with beautiful images from the monastery island of Papa Stronsay in 2009.

What we now need to know is what the response will be to the publication. Each Catholic subscriber is going to receive a copy free with their paper but what we must find out is how many extras we must print. Hence this post.

Extra calendars, in full colour and printed on glossy paper, cost £5 each. If you would like to purchase extra copies you can do so right now by either:

- clicking on the calendar purchase button on the left of this blog page to make the order via paypal.

- or by emailing us your address and the number of copies you would like via the contact button on the left hand side of this blog. In this case we will invoice you with your calendars.

Thus you will receive two, three, ten or however many calendars you would like.

A calendar is an ideal Christmas gift and it is one that lasts the whole year round. Please support this project generously by ordering a good quantity of them. If you would like to let us know as soon as possible, this will help us to let our friends at the printery know in good time.

Likewise, you could also simply subscribe to Catholic or you can also take out gift subscriptions online by using the "Subscribe to Catholic" button located likewise on the left hand side of this blog.

What makes our paper different from the others in the paper rack, or our calendar different from the plethora of other Scottish calendars?

We hope you will find it is because they are prepared to the high standard of St Francis de Sales who wrote:

"In order that you may always give good news,

entertain others as if you came from the other world,

for if you talk to them in the language of the parts where they live, it will be no great news to them..."

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