Restore Depth on the Schuylkill and Boathouse Row

The Schuylkill River needs your help.
Schuylkill River Dredging Project costs have risen from the original $3M to $4.7M.

(The Good news) it is still on the Army Corps of Engineers’ 2017 project list - a major win.

(The Bad news) no federal funding is assigned yet and as a recreational project, rather than commercial, it ranks lower on the Corps current list (of about 30 projects).

PLEASE sign the Sign-Up-Genius petition on the Schuylkill Navy website. Names will be circulated to appropriate political stakeholders (using zip codes). A link to the petition can be found here:

Scroll to the end of the list of names and "X" the small “Sign-Up” box

Click the larger “Submit and Sign” button at the bottom.

Blessing of the Water

The Water of Life

Yesterday, a mild January Sunday, with a gray sky overhead releasing a misty rain, the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia was blessed. It badly needed it. Silt and weed buildup over the last decade or more has rendered the river a challenge for rowers. The usual bureaucratic red tape has held up much needed dredging. Yet these matters were nowhere near the forefront of reasons prayers were made over the river. The theme and rationale for the Orthodox Blessing of the Waters was the Epiphany of the Lord.

Almost all of the Orthodox jurisdictions in the Philadelphia area, along with the Anglican Fellowship of the Delaware Valley, were represented at the Blessing. They came to the boathouse to carry out a valued rite of recalling Jesus' Holy Baptism - His immersion in the murky water of the Jordan, an act which consecrated forever that particular body of water. 

The service yesterday also marked a renewal of closer fellowship between traditional Anglicans and Orthodox, a friendship which had been lagging in recent decades. I am getting to know a number of Orthodox clergy in and around Philadelphia, and that has been a blessing in and of itself.

During the "Blessing of the Waters" it is not only the river which is blessed. The congregants are sprinkled with holy water and presented with bottles of the same to take home. They are reminded of the divine gift of water, a sign of the beneficence of our God; water to quench our thirst, grow our crops, clean our bodies, and bless ourselves and others. The Blessing of Waters is symbolic of the blessing of all Creation by our Heavenly Father, who at the beginning looked upon everything which He had made, and it was good. It recalls for the faithful their own baptisms, and the sealing of our souls by the Holy Spirit, thus binding us to Christ and to the Kingdom of God.

Water has been a constant companion in my life. I have always lived near lakes, rivers, streams and oceans. I have lived "in" them, as a swimmer, rower and fisherman. I have harvested their bounty. I have meditated upon their power and beauty. Most importantly I have been baptized by water and the Holy Spirit.

What a sight it was yesterday to see the vested clergy with choir and congregation standing on the dock overlooking Boathouse Row and the City [with the appropriately named and historic Water Works building in the background. It was a reminder, in the midst of the secular disorder, that God is still in control of the world. He makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall, the rivers to rise and the desert to bloom.

God bless you this week,

Fr. Thomas Monnat

Fan Choice Awards

Congratulations to Gabriele Cipollone from Vesper Boat Club. She was named Master's Coach of the Year. A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Gabriele Cipollone coached the Vesper veteran eight to gold at the USRowing Masters National Championships and numerous small boats at the World Masters Championships.

Congratulations to Hugh Gallagher from Philadelphia Adaptive Rowing. He was named Master's Athlete of the year. Using rowing as his personal refuge, Philadelphia Adaptive Rowing’s Hugh Gallagher has been brain damaged since June of 2000. Despite the setbacks, Hugh works out two hours every day and the work has paid off with a silver medal in the legs trunk and arms double sculls at the 2016 Bayada Regatta.