STONINGTON — The annual blessing of the Stonington fishing fleet by Norwich Diocese Bishop Michael R. Cote is a time of reflection to remember those who have been lost at sea during the hundreds of years the town’s denizens have ventured out in boats to make a living.
This year, though, concern turned toward Cote, who was apparently overcome by the heat during the Fishermen’s Memorial Mass at St. Mary Church in the borough, and he was brought to Westerly Hospital via an ambulance.
After Communion, Cote appeared a bit wobbly, and then passed out. A doctor in the congregation and other clergy and church leaders tended to the bishop, before he was transported to the hospital.
The Mass continued after Cote’s departure with the traditional parade, featuring fife and drum corps, bagpipers, representatives of the fleet’s fishing families and other military and civic groups such as the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society and Ladies’ Auxiliary, the Knights of Columbus and the U.S. Coast Guard, went off as planned a few minutes behind schedule.
After a short program emceed by First Selectman Rob Simmons, the Rev. Dennis Perkins, the pastor of St. Mary’s, blessed the fleet that was moored at the town dock. The boat blessings were followed by a line of boats, led by flagship F/V Heritage, helmed by Thomas Williams Jr., cruising outside the breakwater where Peggy Krupinksi, the widow of Wally Krupinski, tossed the memorial wreath in memory of all the fishermen lost.
Alan Chaplaski was this year’s parade grand marshal. Chaplaski, the longtime captain of the 80-foot Eastern-rig traweler F/V Neptune, started shrimping in 1978 and in 1997 was the last fisherman to go after the royal red shrimp.
Back at the dock, food and activities, including a live band, were enjoyed by several hundred spectators.
A spokesman for Westerly Hospital said there was no information he could provide on whether Cote was admitted or his condition. A message left with the Diocesan Communications Office was not returned before deadline.