Blessed are the surfers
The Rev. Michael Rieder blesses surf boards at his church
June 22nd, 2011
12:21 PM ET

Blessed are the surfers

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.

Ft. Rieder and Connie Auteri with the surfboard that started it all.

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.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • New York • Sports • United States

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. ExciteSportswear - No. 1 Skate Shop

    Nice blog here! Also your web site a lot up very fast! What web host are you the use of? Can I get your affiliate hyperlink on your host? I desire my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol

    January 12, 2013 at 12:05 am |
  2. rock rivalry

    Michael Rieder took lots of drugs, including LSD.

    August 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  3. chief

    HAHA look at the picture, whats wrong? 2 old white guys, a bunch of old white women, a black family, some outlet mall shopping women, and some little kids way too close to a guy in a dress..... no surfer there..... moron photo op....

    June 28, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Holy Joe

      At least you can't get them for false advertising. Being dumb as hell yes, but they seem to state their intentions quite clearly

      June 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  4. edward

    Looking for help and support?..come to http://www.wpray4u.com and you will find it

    June 24, 2011 at 3:52 am |
    • Holy Joe

      I have something I need you to support, although I don't think you'd be strong enough

      June 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • chief

      re edward ... i checked out your site... what i found was stupid and incomplete and in spanish or something.... if you are selling something, your and idiot, if your sincere, this is a stupid way to do it... go volunteer somewhere or you will end up like holy joe the troll ....

      June 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  5. Zelda

    The Christian Church developed everything excellent and it also uses everything available wisely and creatively to benefit all. A vitally good ins-ti-tu-tion on earth. Having fun without church is meaningless.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • chief

      the church developed everything excellent? like the ped priests or the people that protect them or the process in place to brainwash people like you tho follow them? i am not talking about Christianity... i am talking about catholocism

      June 28, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • chief

      wisely? speaking to the One that calms the seas, crumbles the mountains, gave life to all,.... ""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," ... what complete arrogance and blasphemy.... oh yeah its ok, he is a dress wearing, celibate, marriage couseling priest....

      June 28, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  6. arleen

    The man that follows god, may need a little help with the "water thing"
    Good for you Father Mike, Let the Blessings flow, I say!!!

    June 23, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  7. Tucked Under

    I don't see any fault in pastors, priests, rabbis, etc using tools to get the word out. No, blessing a board won't make you a better surfer, but it might bring you back to the place of worship... which is the main goal here.

    June 23, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • chief

      this is blaspemy, speaking to the the creator of the universe as if He were some bloke in a bar? .... ""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.

      June 23, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  8. IslandAtheist

    Religion: Is there anything it can't skew?

    June 22, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • sean

      skew: as in distort the truth. irony. does any one else see it.

      June 22, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  9. St. Moondoggy

    Some appropriate scripture for surfers:

    "Ye, verily, thou shalt not steppeth on a crack, lest thou break thy mother's back." Book of Morons 13:53

    "Ye must getteth out of bed on the same side that you get in on, or God shalt smite you with bad luck on thy sleek surfboard." Gibberish 23:3

    "On days where the Lord has blessed you with gnarly waves, thou must pick up any stray coin thou findeth only if the head is up; lest it be tails up, flee that coin of Satan, for he intends that thou shalt get totally tubed in a wicked wipe-out." Gullible 2:19-21

    "Should thou breaketh a mirror, seven years of bogus surfing and beach break shall be thy deserved fate." Nitwits 34:14

    "Have thy surfboard blessed in silly stilted language by the nearest man wearing a silly costume, lest thou not catch the tasty waves; and reward him for his efforts by letting him share the Church's secret naked rituals with you – telleth not anyone about it as it is a special secret just for the very blessed." Predators 23.64

    June 22, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Llama Llama Duck

      Gidget would be proud...

      June 23, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  10. MikeMazzla

    Im a big surfer but I swear religion gets dumber and dumber by the day

    June 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • sean

      I am a religious and I swear surfers get dumber and dumber each day. What is wrong with blessing a vehicle of traveling. Should religion stay in its predescribed cubby. If liberal check here. I wish religious would bless the very foundation of the buildings that surfboards are built, maybe then the teen of the coasts would not get up to surf and get high ( not all surfers get high) but, this act by the priest is a act of recognition to God that if a wave should crash let it crash not on a tweeked melon.

      June 22, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • Jesus Loves You! Be Afraid!

      When you intend to call other people stupid, it might not be a good idea to start with an idiotic statement like "I am a religious."

      June 22, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Llama Llama Duck

      Nah...who knows stupid better than stupid?

      June 23, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Dustin

      @Jesus Loves You! Be Afraid!

      Perhaps before labeling a statement idiotic, you may want to check your facts. The work "religious" is a noun as well as an adjective. In its noun form it refers to any professed member of a religious order. Thus one can be both "religious" and "a religious" and still make grammatical sense.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:32 am |
  11. Peter F

    Haha, I must say – that is rather cool, dude.

    June 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  12. Big Z

    And on the 8th day, God created Surf. Amen.

    June 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  13. CatholicMom

    We have blessings often in our Church…Father blesses us, our animals, our homes, our studios, our food, and so on. We are constantly aware of Jesus Christ’s presence in our lives….especially during Mass and upon receiving Him into our very bodies through the Holy Eucharist. What a blessing!

    June 22, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Reality

      Coming back to Earth and Its Oceans with some rational thinking:

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospels being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man would like or dislike, bless or curse, do or not do?

      June 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • chief

      this is nothing more than blasphemy,,,,

      June 22, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • sean

      Reality, walk away (from CNN)( the pipe)..... were did you get that stuff. Do you believe that the movie 'the rite' is fiction, look up the author he is alive. Do you need more proof, look up maculy martin, or john corapi, evil is here and it is evading you radar, the church is the testament of the covenant to Jesus. Matthew Mark Luke and John are real people and they reported on real events.

      June 22, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

      I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven.

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


      June 22, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • Reagan

      "Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane."

      Name another 'insane' person to stand the test of time. Your copy and paste rants are unsupported by any rational means.

      June 23, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • chief

      when you say father blesses you? you talking about the ped protector in a robe..... you dont recieve Jesus through eucharist.... he us already there if you want Him... the communion is a tradition of remeberance, not an act of some freakin voodoo crap the catholic church made up to control people...

      June 26, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Holy Joe

      Catholic Mom: When was the last time you evaluated what you believe? Have you ever actually read the bible cover to cover without an interpreter? How do you reconcile the RC church doing all those things that it's told not to (one of them being "call no man Father")?

      I'm curious to see what you have to say because you almost seem like a cath defending computer bot that randomly logs in here just to say nice things about the gay peds running your church.

      June 28, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  14. God-Dude Shredding Waves on his Heaven-Blessed Board

    Woah dudes and dudettes, I took my primo board to the Katholic Church and got it blessed, but I still wiped out about the same as always. So I tried an Evanjelly Church, and they baptized it and blessed it and faith healed it, but I still wiped out and couldn't shred at all. So I tried this Muslim place, but I still couldn't blaze the pipelines. Jewish, Buddhist, Shinto, they all failed. After the Mormons blessed it, I couldn't even stand up on the board.

    So I decided I would practice a lot instead, and what do you know? I surf better now! It's almost as if there is no God, and that you will do best in this world if you focus on the task at hand and don't waste time being confused by imaginary gods and deceptive religions.

    June 22, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      Try windsurfing. It's a lot more fun, easier to stay up on the board, and you have a lot more control. 😈

      June 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Reality

      Wisdom for all ages especially "AARPie" surfers!!!!

      June 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • john

      It hasn't made you any less sarcastic or nice though !!!

      June 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • God-Dude Shredding Waves on his Heaven-Blessed Board

      Oh john, you're just jealous that irreligious people are much funnier than religious people.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • Llama Llama Duck

      And oh so humble...

      June 23, 2011 at 9:56 am |
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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.