St. Pio pastor and congregation bless the ocean

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LAVALLETTE — The congregation of the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina gathered along the shores of Lavallette’s beach Monday evening to bless the ocean, a unique ritual growing in popularity among shore communities.

Rev. Douglas Freer began the ritual for the first time this year, as the newly installed head of the church in Lavallette.

“I think it’s a beautiful tradition that they’ve done in other beach communities on the shore,” Rev. Freer said. “I think it’s a chance to bear witness to the community about the faith and for us to honor the Blessed Mother and also the tradition is that the waters have healing powers on this day.”

Following a 5 p.m. Mass, worshipers processed from the church to the beachfront as church bells chimed and a light rain drizzled, bringing an added sense of somberness to the ritual.

Once on the beach, Rev. Freer led a prayer, blessing the wreath of blue flowers that he was to throw into the ocean.

After completing the prayer, Rev. Freer boarded a rowboat and with the help of five Lavallette lifeguards who volunteered their time Monday evening, was rowed through crashing surf to calm waters, where he tossed the wreath into the ocean.

For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.