Manuel Rocha - St. Francis Xavier Church in Brunswick
In 1938, the Portuguese parishioners of St. Francis Xavier Church presented a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima. This beautiful statue is carved from a solid block of dry Brazilian cedar and is carried in procession every Mother’s Day around the church with the congregation singing hymns in Portuguese. In the afternoon, the local priest blesses the fishing fguese community in Brunswick leet and rides out to Saint Simons Island where he places a wreath of flowers in the sea in memory of deceased fishermen. This coming Spring will mark the 80th anniversary of the Blessing of the Fleet in Brunswick where both shrimp boats and pleasure craft are blessed for a safe year. 80 years after the first event there is still a vibrant Portuwho gather every Mother’s Day and keep this tradition alive. In recent years the city of Brunswick has promoted the event and Manuel Rocha has ensured that the traditions of the past have been maintained. Of Portuguese descent and the son of a shrimper Manny has been part of the Blessing of the Fleet all of his life. He is a perfect liaison between the fishing community, the church and the city. Manuel and his wife Mary coordinate with the boat captains for the best time for the blessing based on the tides, set up judging of the shrimp boats for the best decorated and award prizes , assist the city in planning a Blessing festival and assist the church in planning out a Mass and procession. Manuel has been a longtime standing member of the Knights of Columbus. Manuel has served as a money counter at the church for 2 years. When he is not serving at the church he can be found fishing or shrimping in the waterways of the Golden Isles. Manny is a faithful servant to the church and the local community. This award is a recognition of the entire Portuguese community at St. Francis Xavier and their support of St. Francis Xavier Church through the years and the strong link between the sea, the fishermen, Our Lady and the Golden Isles.