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Surfers at Bondi Beach carrying the parish surfboards (The Catholic Weekly/Giovanni Portelli Photography)

It’s a rare parish that has surfboards in the cupboard, alongside the vestments, thurible and hymn books – but Bondi’s a special place. Source: The Catholic Weekly.

More than 25 Sydneysiders passed on the opportunity to sleep in on Saturday and instead enjoyed the inaugural sunrise surf session hosted by St Patrick and St Anne’s Bondi Catholic parishes.

With six surfboards between them – including two owned by the parish, sporting its Virgin Mary and Christ Child logo – parishioners hit the beach to watch the sun come up before enjoying breakfast and guided group surf lessons.

Events coordinator for Bondi’s Catholic parishes and surf teacher Monica Bautista said it was the perfect opportunity to inject faith into the local beach culture.

“We have an iconic beach here in Bondi, so it’s a great chance to use our local resources to evangelise,” Ms Bautista said.

“Catholics really want to meet other like-minded people through something fun and interactive.”

The idea was born with the motto Duc in Altum, Latin for “put out into the deep” from Peter’s first meeting with Jesus on the water.

“Saturday surf sessions take two elements of this story – it’s in the water and also the idea of meeting people where they’re at,” Ms Bautista said.

“Though we can definitely evangelise in the church, it’s often hard to meet people where they’re at when they’re not at church.

“In Bondi, everyone’s out and about and wanting to do different things.

“The water is an iconic part of the community, so what better way to get together in Christ’s name than in the sun with a surf.”

Ms Bautista grew up surfing at Maroubra beach and from a young age loved to teach others.

When she isn’t showing people in Bondi how to catch waves, she is instead teaching kids with autism through the charity Ocean Heroes.

“It gives them an opportunity to build their confidence and grow their social skills to meet new people,” she said.

“It puts them out into the deep to take a risk, but also trust that they are surrounded by people who will take care of them and love them.

“It’s essentially the same with Bondi parish, which through faith helps the community recognise that Christ will take care of them and love them.”


From Ave Maria to Hang Ten: Bondi Catholics drop in for dawn surf school (By George Al-Akiki, The Catholic Weekly)