.- The Diocese of Orange County recently announced its third annual wave blessing ceremony, intended to invoke gratitude for the natural beauty of the coastline as well as draw awareness to the “significant threat” of pollution and toxic waste to the area.
An announcement on the diocesan website said the “Blessing of the Waves” will be held on Sunday, Oct. 3, at the iconic Huntington Beach Pier in southern California. The event – which drew more than 1,000 participants last year – will feature “an opening prayer service, pledge to protect of our oceans and beaches, blessing of waves and attendees, acknowledgment of marine safety representatives, and close with surfing priests and other religious leaders,” said the diocese. “Tongan and Samoan choirs will perform traditional ocean songs, giving thanks to God for our ocean environment.”
“In Orange County our beaches are more than simple geography; they are a cultural and spiritual center of our community,” said Bishop Tod Brown.“It is important that we recognize this common element in all our lives, regardless of faith tradition. 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.”
According to the diocese, California’s coastal region “is under significant threat due to pollution and global climate change,” adding that California “will lose an estimated 41 square miles of coastline due to erosion by 2100.” The diocese also noted that 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.”
“It is fitting that this blessing will be held on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology,” added Franciscan Fr. Christian Mondor, vicar emeritus of Sts. Simon and Jude parish in Huntington Beach. “Our coastline 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,” he underscored. “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.”