Father Thomas C. Lopes had never been to Cuttyhunk until last Sunday morning.

Traveling on a 26-foot patrol boat owned by the Dukes County Sheriff’s department, Father Lopes crossed the water to the small chain of Elizabeth Islands to offer a Mass in the Union Methodist Church on Cuttyhunk.

A Vineyard native, the 72-year-old priest had served on Nantucket from 1991 to 2000, an Island hop of a different nature. He is now retired.

On Sunday morning, a clear summer day with deep blue skies overhead, Father Lopes stepped off the dock at Owen Park in Vineyard Haven and onto the patrol boat, captained by Sgt. Thomas (TJ) Mello.

The 75-minute trip was smooth all the way, as the boat was pushed by a 225-horsepower outboard. Sergeant Mello kept the boat close to the calmer waters near the north shore beaches, speeding along a long stretch of smooth water that ran from West Chop to Menemsha. Rougher water was to the north in a stretch from Middle Ground to Lucas Shoal.

Father Lopes said he recalled as a youth going out to the Middle Ground with his grandfather, Joseph Authier, and several cousins. “My grandfather would take us out in his catboat, a boat without a mast,” the priest said. “We caught black sea bass, flounder and scup.”

On this day, favorable current cut as much as 20 minutes off each trip to Cuttyhunk and back. Eight recreational fishing boats lined the rip at Lucas Shoal. Sergeant Mello passed Split Rock, took a hard right turn off Paul’s Point and headed north toward Quick’s Hole, one of the most popular and safest channels available to cross from Vineyard Sound into Buzzards Bay.

As the boat approached the channel to Cuttyhunk, Father Lopes pulled out a small digital camera and began taking pictures.

He waved at a few of the boaters in a dinghy leaving the harbor.

At the dock, he was met by Ann N. Conway, the island’s Roman Catholic lay leader, driving a gas-powered golf cart.

The priest climbed onto the golf cart for the ride along the winding road up the steep hill to the Union Methodist Church, a pretty, white, 130-year-old building overlooking the harbor. Inside the church, there was a small gathering awaiting. Father Lopes was greeted by Rev. Mary Jane O’Connor-Ropp, the church’s summer pastor.

Near the altar and on the walls facing the congregation were spiritual mosaics made from quahaug shells, one of Saint Francis of Assisi and the other of the Virgin Mary. The mosaics were made by Manuel Sarmento, a Portuguese artist, in the 1950s.

It was time for services to begin. Mrs. Conway rang the steeple bell by repeatedly pulling a rope that hung from the tall ceiling.

About 15 people attended the service, most of them summer boaters. Cuttyhunk has a lively harbor with a large transient population of sailors and yachtsmen.

The winter population on Cuttyhunk was once about 30; in recent years it has dropped to around 20. This is the second summer that Reverend O’Connor-Ropp will serve as pastor for the church. She served as minister for the Trinity United Methodist Church in Oak Bluffs from 2002 to 2006. “From its very beginning, the church has tried to serve those of all denominations,” she said.

Father Lopes said he was inspired by his visit to Cuttyhunk and reminded of another distant island. “Going up the hill reminded me of Faial, one of the nine islands of the Azores, off the coast of Portugal,” he said. He first visited that island in 1978. “My dad’s family, my grandfather Antone Lopes’s family, lived in a little village. I remember walking up a winding cobblestone street and seeing houses on either side. That memory came back to me,” he said.

Many hours later Father Lopes had returned to his Vineyard Haven home. Sunset was near and Father Lopes made a quiet visit to West Chop to watch the day come to an end. He gazed across Vineyard Sound to the Elizabeth Islands.

“I was inspired by that trip to Cuttyhunk,” the priest said.