USS MISSOURI, At sea (NNS) -- A Catholic priest who provides services to the Catholic community at Naval Submarine Base New London's Chapel of the Thames, was one of eight distinguished visitors who participated in a four-day embark aboard Virginia-class submarine USS Missouri (SSN 780), March 9-12.
Rev. Tom Hoar had the unique opportunity to celebrate Mass aboard a submerged submarine as it transited through the Atlantic Ocean. The Mass for the crew also marked a pivotal point as it was the first time Mass was performed on a Virginia-class submarine.
Hoar, who celebrates Catholic Mass twice on Sundays at the Chapel of the Thames, said his fellowship also provides an insight into the making of the submariner.
"Seeing the rhythm of their daily lives will make me more attentive of what they say when I'm offering them support in the future," said Hoar. "I see this as a real opportunity for my own personal growth in my call to minister to the Submarine Force and their families in Groton."
Hoar also offered the blessing at the ship's christening and reflected on coming full circle in his ministry through the four-day embark.
"This embark gave me insight into the day and the life of an active-duty submariner," said Hoar. "It also provided me an opportunity to legitimize myself as a minister to the submarine community."
Services on board submarines are regularly provided by lay leaders. Hoar added that lay leaders play a pivotal religious role to submariners.
"As members of the military we do our jobs daily, but on Sundays we have the opportunity to gather and pray together," said Roa. "It meant a lot to me to have a Catholic priest on board."
Since ministering to the Catholic community in Groton, Hoar has celebrated more weddings and baptisms in the past 20 months than in the last 20 years of ministry.
Hoar said one of his takeaways from this experience is that he will take back the wisdom gained and share it with the Chaplain Corps in Groton. Hoar said he will be better able to meet the needs of the Catholic community at Naval Submarine Base New London.
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