Mary Rose Anderson finds pet blessings to be both touching and amusing.
Anderson is pleased that such ceremonies continue to be carried out all over, especially at St. Mary Mission Catholic Church in Coupeville, where she serves as director of religious education.
Animal lovers from throughout Whidbey Island are invited to bring their pets to the blessing at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, at St. Mary. The church is located at 207 N. Main St.
The age-old tradition is conducted in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures. The custom happens all over the world on or near Oct. 4, which marks the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
Anderson said this is the fourth year in a row of the ceremony at St. Mary. She said she kick-started the tradition at St. Mary after it had stopped for a while.
Generally, a pet owner holds his or her dog, cat or other pets while a priest greets the animal with a prayer and gently sprinkles holy water on them.
Pastor Paul Pluth will do the honors in Coupeville this year.
“We’ve had as many as 27 dogs,” Anderson said. “They were all barking like crazy when we were singing but as soon as the priest started reading the prayers, they were quiet. They howled for the singing but they were quiet for the prayer.”
Anderson has been touched by the ceremonies and witnessed the close bonds between owners and their pets that prompted the tradition.
“It’s really a joyful thing,” she said. “It means so much to the children and to their parents.”
A release issued by St. Mary Mission Catholic Church welcomes animals of all kinds to the blessing as long as the owner accompanies them and urges that common sense be used. Anderson said she believes a reptile has been brought in the past.
A variety of St. Francis pet medals will be available for sale for a donation of $10 each or three medals for $25 with proceeds going to the St. Mary Children’s Religious Education program.
For more information about the pet blessing, call 360-678-6536 on Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m.