Only one thing could bring dozens of surfers, two priests, a Tongan choir and the inventor of the boogie board to Huntington Beach on a bright Sunday morning. They were among the 3,000 faithful gathered for the 5th annual Blessing of the Waves. The October event coincides with the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi – Patron Saint of Ecology.
Sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, the interfaith gathering featured representatives from Jewish, Sikh, Christian, Muslim and Zoroastrian communities. But there was one common philosophy this day: a spiritual appreciation for the ocean.
After the service, Father Christian Mondor, 87, led his flock of surfers into the warm Pacific Ocean. A longtime surfer, Mondor emerged from the waves with a beaming smile on his face.
"It's great to be in the water," he said. "It's such an invigorating experience."
A member of the Huntington Beach Longboard Crew bows his head during the Blessing of the Waves service near the Huntington Beach pier. The crowd neared 3000 people according to organizers, the biggest turnout ever for the 5th annual event.
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