June 22nd, 2011
12:21 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – Some New York surfboards and boogie boards got a splash of holy water before hitting the waves Sunday. St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church in Montauk held its first ever blessing of the boards on Father's Day.
The church is in the Hamptons, the Long Island beach communities popular with both celebrities and locals. The Rev. Michael Rieder blessed the boards and the church and conducted another blessing at Ditch Plains Beach.
Jo Piazza in The Wall Street Journal's Metropolis blog described the blessing like this, quoting Rieder:
"Dear God, your son walked on water but we know it would have been a lot more fun if he had a surfboard or boogie board," Rieder said as he splashed holy water onto the boards and their owners. "Let's ask his blessing as we play in the waves."
The idea came from Connie Auteri, a congregant at the church and herself a new surfer. Auteri told CNN she got the idea after lugging her heavy standup paddle board in and out of her vehicle. She and Rieder worked together to plan the event and decided to do it about two weeks ahead of time.
The priest isn't a surfer but said he thought it would be a good way to get people interested in the church.
"I started with just surfboards, skim boards, skate boards and boogie boards," Rieder told CNN of the blessings.
"After Mass someone came up to me and said, 'What about ironing boards?' So then I started saying it would be a blessing of surfboards, boogie boards, skate boards, skim boards, ironing boards, school boards, executive boards and even two-by-fours. We got them all except school boards and executive boards."
Rieder said he chuckled when someone did bring a two-by-four to be blessed. He said the wood was part of a building project.
Every year Montauk holds an ecumenical blessing of the fleet. The priest, a rabbi, a Protestant minster and an Orthodox priest gather for the blessing of the area's boats. The clergy gather on a Coast Guard cutter in the harbor and bless the fishing, commercial and rental boats in the town over ship-to-ship radio, Rieder said.
St. Therese has about 500 members during the winter, fall and spring, but in the summer, attendance jumps with the increase in beach traffic.
The blessing of the boards drew about 100 people, including one surfer who took a break from shredding the waves and said it was worth missing a gnarley wave to get his board blessed.
"If this can help me rip better waves, then I am all for it," the surfer told the Journal.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.