George (pictured) and his wife Mary were about to make their first trip south of the Equator when they realised they would be at sea on Ash Wednesday.
There were no ashes available before they left the US but after a number of passengers asked if they could attend an Ash Wednesday service, he decided to email the Adelaide Archdiocese via the website to ask if he could obtain some ashes.
Each year after Palm Sunday, palms are burnt to create the ashes for the following Ash Wednesday.
Sacristans at the Cathedral parish organised for a small container of ashes to be given to the deacon when the ship docked at Port Adelaide on Monday February 25.
George and Mary came into the city and picked up the ashes, and then attended midday Mass in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral.
They said their cruise from New Zealand to Australia and Bali comprised mainly American, Australian and British tourists, about 50 whom he expected to attend the Ash Wednesday service.
One of about 300 deacons in the Diocese of Paterson in New Jersey and a cruise enthusiast, George said he always volunteered his services when he boarded the ship and he enjoyed celebrating interdenominational liturgies on a Sunday.
He said there was even stronger interest in an Ash Wednesday service, as was the case back home. George, who has been a deacon for 24 years, thanked the parish staff for their “kindness” in helping him out.