Blessing of the Animals: Dogs, cats and turtles, oh my

St. Episcopal Day School in Brownsville had its annual Blessing of the Animals Wednesday morning at the school’s campus and every animal from dogs, cats, iguanas and turtles were present to get their blessing.

The Blessing of the Animals came about from St. Francis of Assisi who is the patron saint of animals. He is known for his love for animals and nature.

Rev. Laurie McKim, rector of the Church of the Advent Episcopal and EDS chaplain, led Wednesday’s gathering by reciting a prayer for the blessing of the animals, as dogs of all sizes could be heard barking in the background and children asking their pets to sit.

“We ask you gracious Lord, to bless these children and their pets, that the love they share may be a sign of your presence in their lives and in the world and we pray that even as we see how the creatures of this world look to us for their needs, we too would be moved to look to you for all our needs in this life and in the life that is to come,” McKim said.

First to be blessed was Mariah, a 13-year-old pup, who wiggled away as McKim sprinkled water on her. Mariah’s owner Dennis Acosta, said Mariah was named after Grammy Award singer Mariah Carey, “because of all the octaves she has,” Acosta said.

Zeus, a 1½-year-old French bulldog, was among dozens of dogs that were waiting to receive their blessings.

He was with his owners Mark Anthony Garcia 11, and his sister Magaly, who is in first grade. It was Zeus’s first time attending the blessing and Mark Anthony said his dog was getting along pretty well with the other animals at the event.

Mark Anthony said he wanted to get Zeus blessed because his friends wanted to see the dog and “he’s my only dog and I really love him.” He wasn’t sure how Zeus would react to the blessing because he really doesn’t like water. “I think he will flinch.”

Mark Garcia, Mark Anthony and Magaly’s father, said it was his second time attending the event that the school holds. The elder Garcia said “Pets are part of our life. We like to come to church and like getting blessed so I guess pets should be part of that as well,” is the reason he took Zeus to the blessing.

Sixth-grader Sebastian Saldana took his dog Denis to be blessed and had taken Denis to previous blessings in the past. “He’s acted very calm. He’s never barked at these events. He’s a very calm dog and he’s my favorite out of both” my dogs. He described his other dog as “crazy.” “I’m pretty surprised about the enormous amount of dogs. There use to be a more variety of animals but now it’s mostly dogs.”

Wednesday’s was Bandit’s, a Maltese Shih Tzu, first time attending a blessing with his owner Noah Medrano, a 4-K student at EDS and his mom Marisa.

“It’s very nice. It’s joyous to see everybody. It’s the first time we have been able to get together as a school community because of COVID. The kids are elated to have their pets here with their friends,” Marisa said. “There are lizards and fish and everything.”

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