Faithful gather for ritual blessing of sea

Fr. Marek Stybor raises a statue of Mary into the air, surrounded by members of the church’s child prayer group, as Fr. Pedro DeOliveira (right) blesses the ocean waters. MARK R. SULLIVAN

POINT PLEASANT BEACH — A large crowd followed Father Pedro DeOliverira and Father Marek Stybor, of St. Peter Church, to the shoreline on Aug. 15 to take part in a ritual blessing of the ocean waters.

The blessing was preceded by a morning Mass on Jenkinson’s Beach celebrating the Catholic Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Following Mass, Father Pedro and Father Marek lead the congregation down to the shoreline to bless the ocean waters and all those who enter them, whether for recreation or livelihood. 

“I think it is a beautiful tradition and custom,” said Father Pedro. “We had a prayer group we started this past year with children that gathered to pray the Rosary in honor of the Mother of God. So we gave each of them some flowers for the procession to the ocean with the statue of Mary. We said to the children, ‘now you present these flowers to your mothers as gifts,’ and so they took them home.”

Those who attended the morning Mass followed the procession down to the shoreline and some brought buckets and water bottles to collect ocean water blessed by the priests.

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