How A Catholic Priest Forever Changed Surfing Culture

Honoring of Reverend Christian Mondor Proves His Last Impact

Reverend Christian Mondor was the first Catholic priest to be honored in the Surf Hall of Fame. Known as the “surfing padre” he was a local hero on the beaches of Huntington Beach in Southern California.

Reverend Mondor arrived in the city in the 1960s. He started surfing almost immediately after arriving. When Father Mondor spoke about surfing, it mostly focused on the spiritual side of the sport: “it can be very contemplative. When you’re out alone, between waves, you experience a beautiful calm.”

Soon after learning how to surf Mondor began to bless surfers before they went into the ocean. This evolved into the “Blessing of the Waves,” an annual event that drew thousands of people. The priest would bless the ocean and the surfers in honor of the patron saint of the environment, St. Francis of Assisi. The ceremony would later come to involve spiritual leaders of many different faiths, as a celebration of the commonality of religion in protecting the environment. Father Mondor believed “the ocean can bring people of all faiths together.”

Father Mondor died on April 25th, two days before his 93rd birthday. Surfers celebrated his life by dedicating this year’s Blessing of the Waves to him. Many of the hundreds of people who attended spoke of how he changed their lives after talking to the priest on countless occasions.


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