'Surf City' Franciscan rides the waves

Fr. Christian Mondor heads toward the ocean at the Blessing of the Waves Sept. 7. (Orange, Calif., diocese)

On Sept. 7, Huntington Beach, Calif., held the seventh annual Blessing of the Waves, with more than a thousand people attending the interfaith event. That included Fr. Christian Mondor, an 89-year-old Franciscan affectionately known as the "Surfer Priest," who spoke with NCR before the ceremony.

NCR: Is there a theme that directs each Blessing of the Waves?

Mondor: I would say thanksgiving for the great gift that the ocean is to everyone. It's one thing that despite our politics or religion or all the differences we may have, the ocean can bring us together because it is a source of joy, a source of sustenance, a source of all kinds of things for all people.

Why did you decide to take up surfing?

I was bodysurfing in the water in the second, third year I was here. I guess it was my 70th birthday, and I realized that, hey, this is not simply Huntington Beach -- this is Surf City, USA, and it's about time I learned how to surf on a board.

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