Blessing of the Waves: 3000 surfers ask God for the best waves | Photo: OC Register

Priests, Rabbis, Imams and others were joined by nearly 3,000 surfers and ocean minded people early Sunday morning for the third annual Blessing of the Waves celebration in Huntington Beach, Calif. This unique observance called on participants to show spiritual appreciation for the ocean and all that it gives the planet and its population.

Attendees were joined by Tongan and Samoan choirs who performed hymns in traditional island attire, honoring the ocean environment and sending their prayers out over the ocean to other coastal communities.

"We benefit greatly as a community from the gifts the ocean provides. The Blessing of the Waves seeks to bring our diverse community together in celebration of these many gifts. It was truly inspiring to see such a large and diverse group of participants and faith leaders united in prayer and adoration," said the Most Rev. Tod D. Brown, Bishop of Orange.

Southern California is home to many world-class surf breaks and the majority of these are in Orange County. Many people, including Catholics, spend much of their time surfing and enjoying the natural beauty of our coast line and recognize the spiritual importance of this natural asset. The Diocese of Orange organized this first of its kind interreligious event in 2008 drawing more than 400 participants to the Huntington Beach pier to take part in this community activity lead by Catholic clergy, Diocesan youth groups, and participants of various faith traditions. The second annual event held in 2009 drew more than 1,000 participants to the iconic pier for this spiritual observance.

The year’s blessingbegan on land with clergy discussing the importance of our natural environment and the effect of global warming on the poor and marginalized around the world. The speakers touched onthe spiritual and ethical responsibility to respect and nurture the planet and its resources. Faith leaders offered prayers representing their individual faith tradition’s reverence for the ocean and its ecosystems. Several ceremonial conch shells were blown as Tongan and Samoan choirs dressed in traditional garb sung hymns in their native tongue out over the pacific as several surfing priests and a rabbi, joined by dozens of surfers, took to the waves for a surfing session in celebration of nature’s gifts.

The Blessing of the Waves fell on October 3rd, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology and founder of the Franciscan Order in 1209. It was the Franciscans who established many of California's missions.

"The Blessing of the Waves program brought together peoples of many faiths - sharing concern for our environment. St. Francis would be pleased to know that his voice is being heard by surfers, sailors, fishermen and other ocean-minded people," Bishop Brown concluded.

Clergy and faith leaders who attended:

- Rev. Mathew Munoz, associate pastor, St. Irenaeus Parish, Cypress, Calif.
- Rev. Christian Mondor, vicar emeritus, Sts Simon and Jude Parish, Huntington Beach, Calif.
- Rabbi Nachum Shifren, the "Surfing Rabbi"
- Maneck Bhujwala, Zoroastrian Community
- Donald Garrick, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
- Maria Khani, Islamic Society of Orange County
- Milia Islam-Majeed, Executive Director, South Coast Interfaith Council
- Carol Weinfeld, Temple Beth David, Westminster, Calif.


SOURCE: RCBO