A Mass was celebrated on Saturday, March 21, in Marseille on board the cruise ship Costa Fascinosa after five passengers from the vessel were killed in the Tunis terrorist attack.
The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, from Catholic charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS), who is currently in Marseilles to attend the regional AoS coordinators’ meeting.
Mass was held at the request of Costa Cruises, owners of Costa Fascinosa, to offer spiritual and pastoral support for surviving passengers and crew who have been affected by the tragic killings.
In his homily, Bishop Kalathiparambil said, “When the Costa Fascinosa set sail, both passengers and crew could not have imagined that a seemingly relaxing cruise holiday would turn out to be a week of terror.
“It is difficult for us to understand the logic behind these terrorist attacks…We feel frightened, insecure. Faced with so much violence, we have many questions, but what is certain is that we cannot respond with more violence,” he said.
“That's why we gather to celebrate the Eucharist; the greatest manifestation of the love of Jesus, who gave his life for our salvation and conquered evil and falsehood,” added Bishop Kalathiparambil, who is Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants, which coordinates the global activities of AoS.
In addition to the five passengers from Costa Fascinosa, 12 passengers from another cruise ship, MSC Splendida, also died in the attack.
During Mass, Bishop Kalathiparambil entrusted to God the souls of those who died and remembered the injured and wished them a speedy recovery.
“We pray that God gives those affected courage and strength to face what must be a difficult time. And through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we invoke the Lord for the gift of peace and tolerance among nations,” he said.
Costa Fascinosa captain Ignazio Giardina thanked Bishop Kalathiparambil and AoS for going on board to celebrate Mass. “Your presence was much appreciated by our guests and our crew as it brought hope on this ship during what is a difficult time.”
AoS in Great Britain has an active cruise ministry with chaplains deployed on board cruise ships during Easter and Christmas to provide pastoral support for crew and passengers alike.