A sailing Catholic couple killed by Somali pirates during their global cruise to distribute Bibles was a “wonderful part” of a California Catholic parish, the couple’s pastor said.
Retirees Scott and Jean Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif. had decided to make a difference in the world by bringing Bibles to the “far-flung corners of the earth,” St. Monica Catholic Community pastor Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson said in a Feb. 22 interview.
“Our community believes in helping to form loving disciples who will transform this world,” he explained. Sharing Bibles was the Adams’ way of doing that during the sailing trip they began in 2004.
Their 58-foot sloop, the Quest, had separated from the Blue Water Rally cruise fleet traveling from Australia to the Mediterranean when they were hijacked by 19 Somali pirates in the northwest part of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Oman. The pirates captured the Adams and their friends Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle of Seattle.
Four U.S. naval warships were tailing the captured vessel and Navy officials were engaged in negotiations with two of the pirates on board one of the American naval ships on the morning of Feb. 22.
But those talks were cut short by the sound of gunfire coming from the Quest, which Navy forces quickly boarded and captured. However, they found all four Americans had been wounded fatally.
Msgr. Torgerson said the Adams’ deaths made him feel “great great, loss” and “great pain.”
“They were faith-filled people, people of the Scripture, people of the Eucharist. They were great people of our community,” he told CNA.
Jean, who was a retired dentist and a mother of two, sang in the church choir.
The priest cited St. Paul’s words in the daily readings about receiving the “unfaded crown of glory.”
“They won the crown. I believe with all my heart they are with God today,” he continued, calling eternal life “the gift and blessing of faithful people.”
“I hope that the four of them find that great peace,” he added, urging an end to violence.
In their 2011 travels, the Adams visited Phuket, Thailand; Galle, Sri Lanka; and Cochin, India. They passed out Catholic Bibles from the American Bible Society and New International Version Bibles from the International Bible Society.
On their website they spoke of finding “homes” for their Bibles as a part of “friendship evangelism.”
The yacht was en route to Salalah, Oman when they were captured. Two pirates were killed in the naval engagement and 13 were captured and detained.
Msgr. Torgerson said Catholics can take inspiration from the Adams.
“We want to make sure that each one of us does as they have done: to go about with courage and strength to make a difference in this world,” he said. “They were doing that as retired people. So all ages can go out and make some difference.”
The Adams’ parish has celebrated at least three liturgies for the dead and their families. It will remember the dead “in a very special way” at its Masses this week.