Home Our Diocese Annual Blessing of the Sea in Ocean City, Maryland, brings churchgoers and...

Annual Blessing of the Sea in Ocean City, Maryland, brings churchgoers and spectators to water’s edge

Father John Solomon of Holy Savior Parish led the crowd in the annual procession and prayer service at the edge of the beach in Ocean City, Md. (Dialog photo/Michael Short)

OCEAN CITY, Md. — Beachgoers might have been a bit surprised.

Several dozen worshipers, altar boys and Father John T. Solomon held the annual Blessing of the Sea in Ocean City on Monday, Aug. 15. It’s a traditional event on the Feast of the Assumption which has ancient roots among oceanfront communities.

The procession wound from Holy Savior Church to the beach on 17th Street, crossing eight lanes of traffic on Coastal Highway. A few in the crowd wore their church best but replaced their shoes with flip-flops or sandals for the beach. The hymns and prayers seemed to contrast sharply with a background of bikinis and boogie boards. A boat pulling paragliding tourists even showed up directly offshore, but nothing marred the ceremony.

Father Solomon, pastor of Holy Savior and St. Mary Star of the Sea Churches, led about 50 people to the water’s edge following afternoon Mass.

“Kindly heed our prayers and bestow your blessing on this sea, so that all who are obliged to earn their daily bread for themselves and their families by traversing these waters and protecting them, including the Ocean City Police Department, Volunteer Fire Company, Beach Patrol, Coast Guard and Emergency Medical Services may be enriched with your bounty and offer due gratitude for your goodness, through Christ our Lord,” the group prayed.

Father Solomon sprinkled Holy Water on the receding waves on a perfect late summer afternoon. As is traditional, he invited parishioners to wade or dip their feet in the ocean waters. “Could you make it warmer?” joked one parishioner.

Many did just that, but cool temperatures meant most just dipped their toes in the surf.

“O God, whose Spirit hovered over the waters in the beginning of the world, grant to us, your servants, that as often as we behold with our bodily eyes the mighty waters swelling out in billows on the heavenly horizon, we may be enraptured in contemplation of your hidden mysteries. Let such a sight and the thoughts it arouses prompt us to invoke and to glorify with due praise your holy name, and to render to you, to whose empire all creatures are subject, the homage of our minds in true humility and devotion, through Christ our Lord,” they prayed.

Following the blessing and procession, the evening concluded with a dinner for International students.