Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Surfing Nuns

Sister James Dolores, 73, gives her best surfer-girl pose in Stone Harbor, NJ, where her Pennsylvania convent owns a beachfront retreat called Villa Maria by the Sea.

“I’m really getting the hang of this,” said the spritely, no-nonsense nun. “No one ever thought they’d see me on a board.”

Though Sister James, of Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, doesn’t actually hang 10, the nun has a special relationship with local surfers, and her mother house will host its 15th annual Nun’s Beach Surf Invitational on Sept. 11. The proceeds go to the maintenance of the breathtaking, 6½-acre, 150-bedroom waterfront complex. (New York Post)

I found this interesting post in CNCathNews. We need to have some light reading here once in a while - so enjoy!

US nuns to host surfing contest

American nuns are to host a Nun's Beach Surf Invitational in New Jersey, to raise funds for the maintenance of their mother house.

Sister James Dolores, 73, from the Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, says: "I'm really getting the hang of this. No one ever thought they'd see me on a board."

Pictured in the New York Post posing on a surfboard on the beach, the nun has a special relationship with local surfers, said the report. It was forged more than 60 years ago when local surfers approached the nuns' beach-front retreat asking if they could ride its waves.

The nuns warmly greeted the beach bums, and the swath of surf was soon dubbed "Nun's Beach." The sisters often sit on the beach and even draw spiritual inspiration watching the wave-riders.

"It's very peaceful," said Sister James, the retreat's property manager. "You see how the water holds them up, balances them and if you ride with the water, it will get you where you want to go. That's how it is with the grace of God."

Bill Deger, now 64, and his surfing buddies once coaxed an 83-year-old nun onto a surfboard.

"One of her life's dreams was to be able to surf," Deger, 64, said of the late Sister Loyola. "So we got her out in knee-deep water and held her on. She loved it. It was an incredible experience."

But in 1996, a small group of surfers led by Larry Gehrke and Deger decided it was time to give back to the nuns - by running a contest to help fund the retreat's upkeep.

The event has got ten so popular that the staff has capped the number of contestants at about 100, though hundreds of spectators attend. All money -- from the $35 entry fees to the hot dogs and sodas sold by the nuns -- go to the convent, which uses the proceeds to fix plumbing, replace tile and update bedrooms and exteriors.

"The surf contest is the single most important event for raising awareness of our presence here and who and what we are about," said Sister James.

The $15 T-shirts are the biggest money-maker. They are redesigned every year and tourists snag shirts with images of nuns praying on boards, hanging 10 Hawaiian-style, and surfing over an American flag. All the images are based on Sister James.

"The only time I've ever been surfing is on these T-shirts," she quipped.

But will Sister James finally hit the waves this year?

"I keep telling them, one day I'm going to paddle out on a board and surprise them all."

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