Holy SurfboardsYesterday marked the 11th annual Nun’s Beach Community Day and Surf Invitational in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. Nun’s Beach is located in front of Villa Maria, the Immaculata IHM‘s convent. I had the privilege of staying at Villa Maria for a long weekend. The sisters that live at Villa Maria told me about the Surf Invitational on the beach. They seem to enjoy the fact that surfers use the stretch of beach and surf in front of their convent. Surfline.com describes surfing at Nun’s Beach:

Decent, lined-up surf, both lefts and rights. Nun’s is located in front of the convent on 114th Street* and is especially fun on a good, head-high northeast swell. Surfing is restricted during the day in the summer, but the north side of the jetty is open to surfing all day. Beach tags are required. The surf is shared by enthusiastic longboarders and young wave-warriors. Lots of surf moms and dads teach their kids to surf here. (*Note: correct address is 111st and First)

Every year a new logo for the surf invitational is designed. These are highly-coveted collectible items. When I was there, the logo had a nun in full habit surfing the waves. At a sidewalk sale downtown Stone Harbor, there was a booth full of people (including nuns) selling the awesome t-shirts et al.

Surfing NunWhile I was looking up Nun’s Beach on the Internet, I came across some beautiful pictures by the talented photographer David McCarty. He was kind enough to let me use them for A Nun’s Life (for which I am most grateful). The top picture is stunning. It shows some boards up against a fence with Villa Maria in the background (note the bird on the top of the cross). A great shot. The other two pictures are of Sister Maria Loyola* at the 2005 invitational (*Note: originally incorrectly identified as Sister James).

Surfing NunAccording to David, Sister Loyola was 80 at the time and the head of the convent. David notes that Sister Loyola claimed to have a lifelong dream to be able to surf. This is pretty close! Visit the Immaculata IHM Web site. Also, check out the David McCarty Photography Web site.

UPDATE: 08/15/2008 – normally I don’t edit my posts, but given that the mixup in names continues to cause confusion, I’ve changed references from Sister James to Sister Maria Loyola … see comments below for the whole story.