The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange will, in solidarity with other faith traditions, participate in the eighth annual “Blessing of the Waves” at the iconic Huntington Beach Pier on Aug. 30 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. This event was created by the Diocese in 2008 to bring together surfers and ocean-minded people, regardless of their faith tradition, to show spiritual appreciation for the ocean and all that it gives the planet and its population. The event has grown over the years and is now hosted and organized by the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council. This gathering demonstrates concern for a cherished environment already compromised by the effects of climate change, toxic emissions, and other pollution.
“In Orange County our beaches are more than simple geography; they are a cultural and spiritual center of our community. It is important that we recognize this common element in all our lives, regardless of faith tradition. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI and other spiritual leaders have called on all people to commit to the protection of the gifts of nature and preserve them for future generations. As we give thanks for this natural gift we must recognize that climate change disproportionately affects the economically disadvantaged. Environmental protection and curbing climate change is a matter of social justice that demands immediate action,” said Rev. Christian Mondor, OFM, PhD, event founder and Vicar Emeritus of Sts. Simon and Jude Parish.
Pope Benedict commented during his 2009 Easter message; “Before it is too late, it is necessary to make courageous decisions that can recreate a strong alliance between humankind and the earth. A decisive ‘yes’ is needed to protect creation and also a strong commitment to invert those trends which risk leading to irreversibly degrading situations.”
Southern California is home to many world-class surf breaks and the majority of these are in Orange County. Many people, including Catholics, Muslims, Jews, etc., spend much of their time surfing and enjoying the natural beauty of our coast line and recognize the spiritual importance of this natural asset. California’s coastal region is under significant threat due to pollution and global climate change. California will lose an estimated 41 square miles of coastline due to erosion by 2100, according to the California Climate Change Center. Wave height and wave shape – requisites for surfing are adversely affected by sea floor conditions influenced by silt and other detritus entering the ocean. Our beach water quality is already dangerous to the health of swimmers and others – between April 2009 and March 2010, more than 100 beaches in California were closed because of the presence of toxic waste and other hazards.
The Diocese of Orange organized this first-of-its-kind inter-religious 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. Last year’s event drew more than 3,000 participants to the iconic pier for this spiritual observance. Participants called attention to the immeasurable importance of our oceans and beaches, and took a deeper look at their spiritual significance. The seventh annual interfaith event, hosted by the Huntington Beach Interfaith Council, will feature an opening prayer service, pledge to protect of our oceans and beaches, messages from surfing legends, blessing of waves and attendees, acknowledgment of marine safety representatives, and will close with a ceremonial paddle-out.
“It is fitting that this blessing will be just ahead of the feast day dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology and Pope Francis’ namesake. Our coast line and its diverse ecosystem are under constant strain and increased environmental pressures. This event seeks to remind our community that protecting the environment is central to believers in a loving Creator. I am excited to join with members of our diverse faith community here in Huntington Beach to bless waves, those who ride on them, and the lifeguards who protect ocean goers,” said Fr. Mondor.