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Local priest travels to Alaska

August 9, 2013
Pierce County Tribune

Ft. Tom Graner had an opportunity to see the Catholic Church on a more international level when he recently served as chaplain on a cruise ship to Alaska.

The cruise, which took off from Seattle and traveled alongside British Columbia before finding Alaska, included Catholics from all over the world.

"It was the first time I've been on a cruise, and the first time I've been to Alaska," Graner said. "There were people from all over the world - Korea, Poland, Colorado, California and Minnesota. You see the worldwide dimension of the Catholic church. We had folks from Australia onboard. It's always fun to see the church around the world and you find we're not that distant."

Graner was on the trip through a program called the "Apostleship of the Sea". It places priests interested in the cruises on the ship and they can work on ship, celebrating masses and providing other services to the Catholics on board.

Graner said they had daily masses, and a Sunday mass for both the crew and passengers.

The ship made stops in Victoria, B.C., and both Juneau and Sitka, Alaska, among others.

Graner said the highlight of the trip was a stop at Butchart Gardens in Victoria.

"It was filled with fountains, flowers and fireworks," Graner said of the stop.

Graner said he didn't have any troubles with sea sickness, but did "definitely know I wasn't on solid land."

Those who did have a patch to help prevent motion sickness were in their own religious group.

"The joke on board was, what religion are those people with the patches," Graner said. "They were called 'Equeasiasticals'."

Although he enjoyed the experience, he was anxious to return home.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," he said. "The mountains and trees are great but I came away thinking the prairie is much more welcoming."



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