WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A new year comes with new blessings as Saint Benedict Orthodox Church blesses Lake Wichita today.

Members gathered at the lake and walked down the trail, then toward the body of water. Members prayed over the water, then blessed with holy water.

The ancient custom of the orthodox Christian faith marks this time of year as a time to pray over local bodies of water and ask God to sanctify the environment and grant healing to people.

Father Peter Kavanaugh said it’s a blessing to get the community involved in prayer not just for the land but for the nation.

“It’s been very neat having this opportunity to regularly come out and remember year after year that all of this is a gift from God and we have so much to be grateful for,” Kavanaugh said.

After the blessing, Father Kavanaugh was asked by a veteran to bless the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Lake Wichita.