If you want to meet someone bursting with spiritual enthusiasm, you should talk with Christ the King and St. Colman parishioner Russ Fairman. Just six weeks after having sailed back into Gunwharf Quays after a gruelling seventy-day Round Britain Sailing Pilgrimage, Russ is already reflecting on what comes next….
Russ took his boat the Mintaka around the UK to celebrate Stella Maris’ (the Catholic charity for seafarers, fishers, and their families) 100 years of service,covering 2300 miles, with over fifty crew and visiting over fifty ports. Local contacts organised twenty three shoreside celebration receptions and all was sailed to schedule on time – a miracle in itself, but what was his influence?
Having read Britain’s Pilgrim Places by Nick Mayhew-Smith and Guy Hayward, Russ learned about the coastal Saints and their pilgrimages through England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. He remembered his experiences in outreach in cities whilst completing the Round Britain Sailing Race in 2019. And of course, his personal mission of teaching the Gospel on the Streets, not just in buildings. So, the offer to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the charity, Stella Maris with a sailing pilgrimage around Britain was just another way for him to share his love for sailing and Christianity at the same time.
Russ said, “This sailing pilgrimage around Britain to celebrate Stella Maris’ 100 years plus of welfare and pastoral support to seafarers and fishers has been an absolute joy – full of prayer, laughter, witness to the love of Jesus, fellowship, fun, spectacular sailing and blissful reception parties.”
But what were the highlights?
Was it the crew that he met and recruited via Facebook from all parts of the UK, all ages, races, and abilities? Was it praying at each of the towns that the pilgrimage stopped at? Was it the specially crafted wooden crucifix made to celebrate the epic journey? Was it the natural beauty he saw as dolphins rounded each headland? Was it the man who carries his 20-foot crucifix around the streets of Falmouth and talks to passers-by about God’s works? Was it the Holy Water from Ardnamurchan Point, which when placed near the broken electronic wind vane and speed gauge on the boat automatically sprung back to life after passing the well of St Columba? Was it the celebration Mass by the Royal Navy held at St John’s Cathedral at the culmination of the pilgrimage? Was it raising well over £15,000 for the charity? No, it was the better understanding and relationship that grew of Our Lady.
It was back in May in Gravesend that Russ thought about a possible next project, “The Crown of Prayer around Britain.” Russ saw the jewels on our Lady’s crown as each of the places that he had visited and would like to have a Year of the Rosary, with a week of prayer for each community that he visited on the pilgrimage. Theresa Maguire who fashioned the special crucifix to celebrate the sailing pilgrimage will create the wooden crown and beads to be shared in relay style by each of the fifty communities across the UK in the Year of the Rosary.
Watch out for more details from Russ on the “The Crown of Prayer around Britain.”
To read the detailed day-to-day account of Russ’ UK sailing pilgrimage visit: https://www.facebook.com/SailingPilgrimages
A recording of the celebration Mass held at St John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth is available on the recordings section of the website https://www.portsmouthcatholiccathedral.org.uk