Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Blessing of the Waves in Surf City USA

ORANGE, CA – Southern California is home to many world-class surf breaks and the majority of these are in Orange County. Many people spend much of their time surfing and enjoying the natural beauty of the coast line and recognize the spiritual importance of this natural asset. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange will, in solidarity with other faith traditions, host the third annual Blessing of the Waves at the iconic Huntington Beach Pier (400 Pacific Coast Highway) October 3, 2010, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

The goal of the event is 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. 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,” said Most Rev. Tod D. Brown, Bishop of Orange.

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. The second annual event held in 2009 drew more than 1,000 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 third annual interfaith event will feature a pledge to protect our oceans and beaches, acknowledgment of marine safety representatives, and close with surfing priests and other religious leaders. Tongan and Samoan choirs will perform traditional ocean songs, giving thanks to God for our ocean environment.

“It is fitting that this blessing will be held on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology. Our coast line and its diverse ecosystem are under constant strain and increased environmental pressures,” said Rev. Christian Mondor, OFM, PhD, Vicar Emeritus Sts. Simon and Jude. “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.”

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.

(An unedited version of this release including video can be found by clicking here.)

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