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F O L L O W E R S O F S T. F R A N C I S
Blessing of the Waves
PHOTO BY MARGE BITETTI
untington Beach, California, known
as Surf City, has over three miles of
smooth sand and beckoning Pacific
waters. It is home to the Ocean Pacific Surf
Championship each year. So 23 years ago,
when Father Christian Mondor, OFM, was
assigned to Sts. Simon and Jude Parish in
Huntington Beach, it was no surprise that
the ocean would call to him. All of his life
this Southern California native was a swimmer. Then, at the age of 70, he decided it
was time to try surfing.
Father Christian, now 88, combined his
love of the ocean with his zealous involve-
A group gathers for the
annual Blessing of the
Waves celebration in
ment in the Huntington Beach Interfaith
Council, of which he is a past president.
Active in fostering mutual understanding for
the diversity of faiths in the community,
Father Christian worked with the council for
the establishment of the Blessing of the
Waves, an annual event started by the Diocese of Orange. Held each year in October to
coincide with St. Francis' feast day, the Blessing of the Waves has been a fitting way to
show respect for God's creation and bring
people of all ages and faiths together.
Each year, members of various faith traditions gather at the water's edge in Huntington Beach to ask God's blessing on the
waves, the surfers, and the city. The ceremony starts on land, with religious leaders
from the interfaith council reciting prayers
from their own faith traditions. Father
Christian blesses the thousands gathered
with rosemary sprigs dipped in holy water.
At the end of the service, the surfers paddle out into the ocean, forming a prayer circle in thanksgiving for God's gift of the
ocean and offering prayers for those who use
it. Father Christian is still an active surfer;
however, the endurance needed for the tra-
PHOTO COURTESY FRED GALLUCCIO
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6 ❘ Augus t 2013
On a return trip from Italy, my husband and I went through airport customs and then bought some gifts at the duty-free shop.
As we headed to our gate for boarding, I realized I was missing
my carry-on bag. Instant panic ensued.
I told my story to the first flight attendant we saw. She said my
bag was probably back in customs. When I got to our gate, I
again told my story, but the plane was ready for takeoff, so I had
no time to go back. Feeling devastated, I again told my story to
one of our flight attendants as we approached our seats.
As we waited, I prayed, "Tony, Tony, come around. Something's lost and must be found" three times. As I finished, the call
came for me to "please come forward. We have your bag." My
bag was returned in perfect condition. One of the flight attendants heard my plight and ran all the way to customs.
—Dolores Horner, Johnstown, Pennsylvania
St A n t h o n y M e s s e n g e r . o rg