Father Felipe Pulido probably doesn’t have his prayers interrupted by barking very often, but Friday afternoon at St. Joseph-Marquette School he walked through a crowd of enthusiastic children and their excited pets for an annual blessing ceremony.
“Oct. 4 is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi and he’s known for loving nature and loving animals,” Pulido said. “We do this every year to remember that every creature is God’s creation.”
The St. Joseph-Marquette students who bought pets mostly had dogs on leashes, but Pulido said in the past, he has blessed a horse, a turtle and a snake.
Friday, he had the opportunity to bless Cookie the chicken, a fluffy hen with her face hidden beneath feathers.
“The boys wanted to bring a chicken,” said Jeff Parries. His two sons help the family care for 50 chickens, which all have names.
Parries said he hoped the blessing would be good luck for Cookie, because her breed tends to be a little finicky and sometimes they don’t live very long.
In addition to the chicken, a bearded dragon named Crimson, a bunny named Phineas, and a guinea pig named Stella waited with their owners, along with dozens of others, to receive a splash of holy water and a blessing.
Maya and Ella Crowder, sisters in the fifth grade, said that their dog, Oden, comes for the blessing every year.
“He’s a big people dog, so he likes it,” Maya said.
Not all the animals were so happy, however. Caitlyn Strand, a third-grader, said that this was the first time she brought her cat, and he didn’t like it because he was scared.
As the two priests worked their way through the crowd, the students ran around to show off their pets and meet those belonging to their friends. Some without pets brought stuffed animals.
After 15 minutes, the holy water had been dispensed and the petting zoo in the parking lot slowly dispersed.