Father Christian Mondor marched across the sand Sunday morning toward the roaring Pacific followed by dozens of disciples, some carrying surfboards and others with bikini strings peeking out of shirt collars. The 89-year-old removed his white vestments and brown Franciscan habit to reveal a black wetsuit.
The crowd hooted and clapped. “Go Father Christian!” shouted Pedro Castagna, 47, clutching a dripping surfboard.
It was reasonable attire for the “Blessing of the Waves,” an annual tradition that now attracts more than 1,000 people to a loose, multidenominational ocean-appreciation service, including Jews, Muslims, Mormons and Tongan singers. Sumo Sato, the burly, white-bearded Hawaiian pastor of the H2O Community Church, also made an appearance.