Beloved Rev. Christian Mondor, known for starting the annual Blessing of the Waves in Huntington Beach, died April 25. It was just two days before his 93rd birthday, Sts. Simon & Jude Catholic Church told its families Thursday.

“He loved life to the fullest and the people to whom he ministered, fighting to stay with them until the very end,” Rev. Ryan Thornton of Sts. Simon & Jude said in an e-mail.

Mondor’s Blessing of the Waves attracted thousands the past 10 years. Mondor, known as the “Surfing Padre,” entered the water during the event. The blessings evolved into a multi-faith celebration that recognized the significance of water in life.

“He died with vision of mind and body unabated and with the holy oils of Mother Church still wet upon his forehead,” Thornton said. “His final words were, ‘Keep working.’ He was, from first to last, a Franciscan priest and a man of God. May he rest in peace.”

A soft-spoken man, Mondor was patient and upbeat with visitors. He heard confessions this past Easter season and was recently seen singing in the choir at Sts. Simon & Jude.

Mondor’s connection with water included successful years as a master’s swimmer.

Sts. Simon & Jude will host a Rite of Reception on May 10 from 4-6:30 p.m., followed by a vigil at 7. A funeral mass will be held on May 11 at 2 p.m.

Full story at Orange County Register.