Nuns Beach Surf Contest is a yearly habit

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Commemorative T-shirts have featured comical charicatures of surfing nuns.  Commemorative T-shirts have featured comical charicatures of surfing nuns.

STONE HARBOR -- This year the 17th annual Nuns Beach Surf Invitational will be held Saturday, Sept. 8 at the beach in front of the Villa Maria by the Sea retreat house in Stone Harbor.

Sister James Dolores and the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who use the Villa Maria as their summer retreat house, host the competition for the surfers who, years ago, bestowed the name Nuns Beach on the popular surfing spot.

After years of riding the waves there, in 1996 local surfers decided to give back to the sisters by organizing a competition to raise funds to maintain the stately but aging Villa Maria by the Sea on 111th Street.

The pact between surfer and nun in Stone Harbor was forged more than 60 years ago when local surfers approached the beachside retreat asking if they could ride the waves in front of the residence. The nuns welcomed the surfers, and the swath soon became known as Nuns Beach. The sisters often sit on the beach and watch the wave riders.

“It’s very peaceful,” said Sister James Dolores, 74, the retreat’s property manager. “You see how the water holds them up, balances them, and if you ride with the water, it will get you where you want to go. That’s how it is with the grace of God.”

The Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary order hosts the annual contest, with proceeds going to the maintenance of the 150-bedroom beachfront retreat.

The competition is an invitational and is open to all levels. Commemorative T-shirts as and other items are available at Pete Smith's Surf Shop on 96th Street in Stone Harbor and at the convent.

The contest runs 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. For information call 609-368-5290 or email Sister James at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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