Enfield church honors the ‘Four Chaplains’

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Enfield - posted Wed., Feb. 19, 2014
At the end of the Mass, American Legion Post 154 member Jonathan Worley played 'Taps.' Photos by Lisa Stone.
At the end of the Mass, American Legion Post 154 member Jonathan Worley played 'Taps.' Photos by Lisa Stone.

Saint Patrick’s Church on Pearl Street was packed on Feb. 16 for the Four Chaplain’s Mass that was sponsored by the American Legion John Maciolek Post 154.

The annual Mass is held to acknowledge the courage and faith that four United States Army chaplains exuded after the transport ship they were on just outside Greenland on Feb. 3, 1943, was hit by a German torpedo and was sinking quickly. The four chaplains - George L. Fox, a Methodist minister; Alexander D. Goode, a Jewish rabbi; Clark V. Poling, of the Dutch Reformed Church; and John P. Washington, a Catholic priest - saw that there were nowhere near enough life jackets for all 900 passengers. They quickly removed their life jackets and gave them to frightened young soldiers, as the chaplains decided to go down with the ship. Six-hundred souls were lost that day. The chaplains comforted the soldiers that were without life preservers and had no choice but to perish with the sinking ship. The heroism that they displayed that fateful day lives on with the American Legion.

“This Mass is to honor the four chaplains that heroically gave their lives while saving four young soldiers,” said Mary Knapp, junior vice commander of Post 154. “The chaplains kept the doomed soldiers as calm as could be while the ship was sinking. We need to acknowledge their sacrifices.”

After the Mass, there was a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps,” followed by a luncheon served in the lower level of the church. “We normally had this event at the Saint Adalbert’s Church,” said Post Commander Jim Raynor. “This year, due to the combining of St. Adalbert and St. Patrick churches, we needed to move the mass to St. Patrick’s.”

“We actually had to postpone the event by one week,” said Post Commander Lucien Lefevre. “St. Patrick’s could meet our needs for the Mass, but they had an event going on in the lower level, so we weren’t able to have the luncheon directly after the Mass. This week worked out for both functions.”

Each year there are approximately 100 guests at the luncheon. This year was even more successful. With the help from local businesses, there was a large spread of food and beverages.

Senior Vice Commander Theodore Plumondon said, “I am honored to still be serving after 65 years. This is a very active post and I am honored to be a part of it. It’s so wonderful to be honoring the four chaplains.”

To learn more about the “Four Chaplains,” visit http://www.historyplace.com/specials/calendar/docs-pix/feb-four-chaplain....

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