Here's a new take on observing the Feast of St. Francis, in case you'd rather spend it at the beach. With 6- to 10-foot waves crashing down behind them, two Catholic priests led some 400 interfaith worshipers in a "Blessing of the Waves" at Huntington Beach.
[Father Christian Mondor] of Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church in Huntington Beach, was 10 years old and growing up in Westwood when he took up body surfing. More than seven decades later -- he is now 83 -- he says he is still drawn to the sea.
"You're out there on the water, between waves, and you feel the swell under you and you look up and see palm trees and mountains in the distance," Mondor said. "You're so close to nature. It's so quiet out there."
[Father Matt] Munoz, 43, of St. Irenaeus Catholic Church in Cypress, made his way through the crowd. With his long auburn hair and long beige poncho, the priest said jokingly, "I'm not Jesus. I need a surfboard to walk on water."
Rick Ischinger, a longtime surfer, blew on a conch shell, calling the gathering to order.
Then, one by one, the representatives of different faiths stood to give a brief prayer.
"Some people pray by the oceans, others by the mountains," said Carol Weinfeld of Temple Beth David in Westminster. "Some people pray in forests and others by a calm cool lake.
"We hope," she said, "that those voices will join together to thank God."
Fawad Yacoob of the Islamic Society of Orange County recited a verse from the Koran. The crowd was quiet as he sang the prayer.
"In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful," he said, "it is he who subjected the sea to you, that you may eat of its fresh fish, and take forth from it ornaments to wear."