Surf Angel

Cool. A seminarian who died while surfing  is being considered for sainthood (via the WallSeminarian_Guido_Vidal_Fran_a_Schaffer_surfing_Photo_courtesy_of_guidoschaffercombr_CNA_11_12_14Street Journal):

In January, the Vatican gave permission to Rio priests to gather evidence of Mr. Schäffer’s holiness and present it to the pope, a crucial early step in the sainthood process.

To mark the moment, Mr. Schäffer’s remains were transferred to the Our Lady of Peace Church in the beach town of Ipanema. His surf buddies accompanied the remains atop a firetruck in a lively procession. Several held surfboards aloft. One board said “JESUS IS OUR WAVE” in large black letters.

“For him, surfing was a mystical experience, like prayer. He felt the presence of God in the sea,” said the Rev. Jorge Neves, who mentored Mr. Schäffer at Our Lady of Peace and resembles the actor Forest Whitaker. Mr. Schäffer called his hefty mentor “Big George.”

A giant poster of Mr. Schäffer on his board now hangs on the outside of the Ipanema church. In it, a tanned and athletic Mr. Schäffer has just completed a wave and is riding the foam. The Surfer Angel wears blue board shorts and stares intently into the distance. Passersby cross themselves as they walk the busy sidewalk below the poster.

The notion of a surfing saint may surprise those who think of saints as ancient martyrs or inaccessible holy men. But that is the point, some of Mr. Schäffer’s backers say. In Latin America, among other places, the church needs youthful, contemporary priests and saints to compete with the rise of Evangelical Protestantism, the thinking goes.

“When he died, it was hard to understand. We asked God, why did you take him since, as a priest, he was going to bring so many people to the church?” said the Rev. Roberto Lopes, a Rio de Janeiro priest acting as liaison with the Vatican on Mr. Schäffer’s possible sainthood. “Then we realized: Maybe he will bring even more people to the church as a saint.”

Mr. Schäffer spread the gospel through surfing. Before paddling out, he would pray on the beach with his surf buddies. Often, other beachgoers joined in. Out in the water, he struck up conversations with fellow surfers between the sets. He liked to say that Jesus, who walked on water, was the first surfer.

But he was not just a beach bum. He was a physician, served the poor, and he was close to being ordained when he died.  Read more (it may be behind a firewall)…

I just love being Catholic.

Related link from Catholic News Agency

About Susan Kehoe

I am the wife of a Catholic deacon living in Des Moines Iowa. My husband Larry was ordained in 2006. We have two children and five grandchildren.. Our daughter and her family live in Ireland, and our son and his family live in Franklin Massachusetts.
This entry was posted in Catholic Church, Holiness, Saints, Uncategorized, Vocations and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Surf Angel

  1. Very cool! Thanks for sharing!


  2. Peter Kreeft, who has written so many excellent Christian books has an article called “Surfing and Spirituality”.
    Here is a link to his article:


    Liked by 1 person

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