‘Surf’s up’ for these Argentine priests

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb 9, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA).- Fr. Santiago Arriola is convinced that “our entire life, in all its expressions and dimensions, calls for evangelization and can be evangelized.”

 With Fr. Pablo Etchepareborda, he has begun a surfing ministry on the beaches of Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Although their endeavor is “a work in progress,”  without all the details worked out, there have been two experiences that have encouraged the priests to continue this ministry.

The first effort was in the summer of 2016 when Fr.  Pablo Etchepareborda blessed surf boards, the sea, and a gathering of surfers in Mar del Plata.

And the pair recently held an “Aloha Encounter,” on a local beach.

“Surfers often say the Hawaiian word ‘aloha’ to each other, which has a multiplicity of meanings referring to wishing someone well,” Fr. Arriola told ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language sister agency.

For two days,  18 surfers, body surfers, and stand-up paddlers, body surfing gathered for times of prayer, personal reflection and group sharing, as well as recreational activities.

Those attending included catechists and members of the Schoenstatt Movement (a Catholic secular institute devoted to defending family life and to venerating Mary), together with “young people who've had a faith experience and are involved in the Church in some way and others who have drifted away from the Church somewhat, but are still wrestling with their faith,” Fr. Arrila said.

“For surfers, surfing has a vital meaning, a meaning that transcends the mere sport itself. For many, it's a time to get reinvigorated, to relax and get away from the frantic pace of daily life, to be with nature and have a kind of religious experience. So it seemed to us a beautiful opportunity to make
this vital meaning of surfing more explicit, and to do it in a community setting,” he explained.

The priest said that they will do other activities as Argentina’s summer, which is during the winter months of the Northern Hemisphere, continues, since the Aloha Encounter “is without a doubt a very positive, worthwhile and enriching experience for all of us who participated and it left our hearts yearning for more.”

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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