Current position of the SSV Robert C. Seamans. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the tools, top right, to change the map style or view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).
SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans
March 03, 2014
S251 Weblog 03 March 2014
23° 7.0’ S x 134° 58.0’ W
Course and Speed
Anchored in Mangareva
Anchored until March 6th
Yesterday morning I went ashore with a number of my classmates to attend the Sunday morning catholic mass at the local church. I really had no idea what to expect and hadn’t quite decided the extent to which I was going to participate in the service. Although I spent a good portion of my Sundays at church back in the day, I’m not religious now and wasn’t interested in my own prayer so much as the cultural aspects of the mass that were unique to Mangareva.
The church was very crowded and hot, but it was truly inspiring to see how seriously the locals valued the service. Group after group entered the structure all dressed up with their nicest clothes and warmly greeted their friends and family. Initially, I tried to sing along with the French and Mangarevan hymns as best as I could and bowed my head at the appropriate times. After a while I just decided to bask in the wonderful singing and glowing smiles that filled the church though. The people sitting directly around us were also very welcoming and encouraging of our involvement in the process.
Wednesday is apparently an important local holiday celebrating the arrival of Catholic missionaries, which raises an interesting set of questions we have been discussing in all of our port stops regarding the balance of local Polynesian traditions with the influx of French Catholic culture. Furthermore, our instructor Moohono explained to me later that the church was actually built on top of the ancient marae. The stone foundation of the site was still visible underneath the new church, which had been funded by the French Polynesian government. All in all, this was a very interesting experience and I can’t wait to further explore this island in the coming days.