Auxiliary Bishop Richard Henning marked the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary August 15 by celebrating Mass and presiding at a “blessing of the waters” ceremony for parishioners and visitors at Our Lady of the Magnificat Church in the Ocean Beach community of Fire Island. Fathers Eric Fasano, John McCartney and Edward Sheridan, all of whom work at the diocese’s pastoral center in Rockville Centre and assist at the summer mission parish, concelebrated the liturgy with Bishop Henning.

At the end of Mass, worshippers had an opportunity to receive the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Afterwards, they walked in procession to the beach for a waterside prayer service. Under clear skies and with the sound of waves crashing in the background, Bishop Henning prayed over water scooped from the Atlantic Ocean and used it to bless the participants. According to a centuries-old belief, the waters of the sea possess healing powers on the Marian feast day.

The holy day coincided with the end of Bishop Henning’s service at Our Lady of the Magnificat, where he had assisted each summer for about 15 years, the last five as parish administrator. Father Sheridan, director of clergy personnel for the diocese, succeeds Bishop Henning in that position.

Copy and photos by Gregory A. Shemitz