How’s this for an unusual place to celebrate Mass: on a submarine.
As venues for religious services go, the Rev. Thomas Hoar says you could do worse than a submarine.
Hoar, who presided over a Mass aboard the USS Missouri last Sunday, said there was a quiet calm to the sub as it surged through the Atlantic Ocean, and he was touched by the thanks from sailors who crowded into the officers’ ward room to pray.
“When I started I said, ‘Let us remember we’re in the presence of God, even though we’re 650 feet beneath the surface of the ocean,’” Hoar said.
It was a first for Hoar and the Navy, which had never before had a Mass performed on a Virginia-class attack submarine. Unlike sailors on the Navy’s surface ships, which are large enough to accommodate chaplains during deployments, submariners almost always rely on specially trained members of the crew to provide services as lay leaders.
Hoar, the 60-year-old priest of St. Edmund’s Retreat in Mystic, is also chaplain to the Roman Catholic community at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, was looking for an opportunity to learn more about the work of submariners. He was invited to join the crew of the Groton-based Missouri, one of the Navy’s newest and most advanced submarines, as they took it on a four-day sea transit.
Since American war ships are dry, he was apprehensive about bringing aboard wine for the service. But his small bottle did not set off any alarms.