PHOTOS Two Marco Island houses of worship bless the pets

Harley, a golden retriever who came with Ronnie and Christy Marino, takes a close look at the camera. St. Mark's Episcopal Church celebrated the Blessing of the Animals on Sunday. The service in the fellowship hall included animal-themed songs, with a good deal of singing along by the dogs. Lance Shearer/Special to the Eagle

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Harley, a golden retriever who came with Ronnie and Christy Marino, takes a close look at the camera. St. Mark's Episcopal Church celebrated the Blessing of the Animals on Sunday. The service in the fellowship hall included animal-themed songs, with a good deal of singing along by the dogs. Lance Shearer/Special to the Eagle

— Our little corner of the world was the place for blessed events this past weekend. In addition to the blessing of the stone crab fleet in Everglades City, Marco Island hosted not one but two Blessing of the Animals ceremonies.

Both San Marco Catholic Church, and St. Marks Episcopal Church, gave parishioners the chance to bring their pets to church and have them blessed. You could say that any pet whose owner cares enough to bring it to have it blessed is already blessed – with a caring caregiver – and any owner whose pet is well-behaved enough to mingle with dozens of others is blessed as well.

San Marco held their affair Saturday morning, outside on the lawn outside the parish hall. Father Tim Navin read a benediction, saying, “animals are God’s gift to us. We pray through the intercession of St. Francis that you will make them available to us.” The animal blessing ceremonies are held now because the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi is celebrated on October 4.

“I’m not a pet owner myself,” Nagin told the three dozen or so around the canopy. “Poor thing, you gotta take it out, and I’m not around to take it out.” After his remarks, he strolled among the animals and their people, blessing the animals by sprinkling holy water with a silvery implement, from a vessel carried by Kim Adamson, San Marco’s director of religious education and youth minister.

“This doesn’t substitute for a bath, you know,” joked Father Nagin.

Gerry and Vera Gibbons had Paco, their cockatiel, blessed.

“He’s 23 years old. We want to keep him around,” said Gerry.

Jan Miniutti gave a different reason for bringing Alfie, her labradoodle. “We came to get the devil out of him,” she said.

Parishioner Kim Gates, whose family brought a variety of pets to be blessed, as well as several stuffed animals, counted all the live animals, and came up with 36 dogs, two ducks, two cockatiels and one macaw. Even the collars of two dogs recuperating from surgery and not present were sprinkled with holy water.

Sunday afternoon, the Blessing of the Animals at St. Mark’s was a noisier affair, held inside the church’s fellowship hall. Dogs vocalized during Rev. Kyle Bennett’s benediction, and during the animal songs sung by Shane Totten, including “Dog Breath,” with lyrics including “I wanna run in the street, get mud on my feet, and jump all over your clothes.”

Shane’s wife Peggy Totten, youth minister and director of the St. Mark’s preschool, said she enjoyed having the dogs join in.

“I love it when all the dogs start singing. That’s my favorite part,” she said. The ceremony included recognition of pets gone to doggie heaven; names read included Chauncey, Bonbon, Tandy, Studley, Boozer, Bandit, Molly, Harley, Abbey and Cold Beer.

Another Harley, a golden retriever who came with Ronnie and Christy Marino, was on hand, behaving as good as gold. Joan Perrine brought her Australian labradoodle, Nina, as well as her daughter Gabby, age seven. Melanie, Kay Lorinc’s Shihtzu, works as a professional dog model, and wore designer couture to the event.

Rev. Bennett’s blessing was a hands-on affair, as he spent a little time with each pet and their owners, stroked and mussed up hair, and got a few doggy kisses in return. He cut a colorful figure, with a brightly colored, clerical collar calypso shirt, plus sneakers with orange, black and yellow accents.

As always, it was mostly dogs, but there were a few other creatures, including a gerbil and a leopard gecko brought by Ian Campbell. Ian’s dad John was heard to propose a way to amp up the excitement level.

“I say close the door, and let the cats out,” he deadpanned. The cats were on hand courtesy of For the Love of Cats, looking for homes, and were not interested in getting to know a roomful of dogs any better. The Humane Society, which received all donations from the event, was also on hand, and the Critter Café passed out goodie bags to all four-legged guests.

In a blessing to pets and humans, the weather cooled off a little over the weekend, so no one had to pant quite as hard.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 6

gladesgator writes:

Nonsense! Jesus gave his life so a bunch of folks who care more about their animal pets can come to "church" and have them blessed. Comon' get real and don't insult our intelligence. It sounds more like the work of a marketing agent than vicars of Jesus Christ.

RayPray writes:

in response to gladesgator:

Nonsense! Jesus gave his life so a bunch of folks who care more about their animal pets can come to "church" and have them blessed. Comon' get real and don't insult our intelligence. It sounds more like the work of a marketing agent than vicars of Jesus Christ.

According to pseudepigraphic sources, Jesus and the Disciples were all enthusiastic pooch lovers.

In fact, during his chat with Pontius Pilate, which according to Mel Gibson took place remarkably in English, the guys exchanged advise on how to coddle their Shih Tzus.

However, my guess is this sanctification of animals reaches back to Francis of Assisi instead of Jesus himself.

In light of the fact that, from casual observation, it's evident that the average Marco pet is possessed of an IQ significantly above the master, one has to ask whether it would be more appropriate for these pooches to have the dimwit owners blessed instead.

John_Q_Public writes:

Clearly you've never seen Mel Gibson's movie or you would know that it wasn't filmed in english.

RayPray writes:

in response to John_Q_Public:

Clearly you've never seen Mel Gibson's movie or you would know that it wasn't filmed in english.

You're right!

However, Pontius and Jesus were made to chat in Latin, equally as improbably as English.

It should have been Koine Greek.

No scholars believe Jesus spoke Latin, strange in that part of the Mediterranean. Jesus definitely knew Aramaic & Hebrew, perhaps Koine Greek. Pilat definitely spoke Latin and Koine Greek.

A similar inconsistency arose in the great 1991 film Black Robe, where the characters began the movie in French & Algonquin, correctly, then half way through switched into modern English!

marcoonmymind writes:

After reading this article, I now know I have seen (or read) it all! Our ancestors, who had LOADS more common sense than us, must be rolling over in their graves right now!!

Ruger writes:

I have a friend in the Estates that has a Pit Bull, its needs an Exorcism... is this a service they provide?

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