Blessing of the animals: St. Mark's nods to St. Francis with service for four-legged friends

Cameron Campbell makes the most of his time dogsitting yellow lab Oliver. St. Mark's Episcopal Church held the annual Blessing of the Animals Tuesday evening in the church's activity center. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

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Cameron Campbell makes the most of his time dogsitting yellow lab Oliver. St. Mark's Episcopal Church held the annual Blessing of the Animals Tuesday evening in the church's activity center. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— Pets, no doubt, are a blessing to their owners. And on Tuesday evening, some of those pets had the favor returned.

As he has for eight years, ever since taking the helm at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Father Kyle Bennett celebrated the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi with the Blessing of the Animals, celebrating and polishing the haloes of about 50 furry, finned or scaly friends, who showed up with their human companions to be blessed.

Jack Patterson brought his fox terrier Daisy, a venerable 14, and John and Alex Roger contended with Amos, Max, and Coco Chanel. Kathy Campbell said her son’s leopard gecko comes out for movie night at home and “hangs out with the family.”

While geckos, goldfish and a few felines attended, the focus was on the canine contingent, with dogs making up the vast majority of the blessees. Interspersed with some lighthearted songs performed by Shane Totten on guitar, accompanied by St. Mark’s music director Ron “Doctor D” Doiron on piano, including “All God’s Critters (got a place in the choir)” and “Dog Breath,” Bennett called heavenly benedictions on the animals.

“Lord God, bless the dogs, in their unquestioning, unconditional love,” he intoned, citing cats for “their play and their dignity,” and “the hamsters and gerbils and domestic rodents, with all their energy and curiosity.” Bennett also put in a word for a litany of “loved pets who have gone on to heaven,” including Tickle, Tinkerbell, Gandalf, Mercury, Bon Bon, Boozer, Fancy, Splinter, Dre, Tasha, and Bear, aka Cold Beer.

Then the pets, shepherded by their people “owners” really seems too cold and impersonal to describe the relationship lined up for one-on-one blessings from Father Kyle. He knelt down to the level of the animals, and received some slobbery kisses in gratitude. A note in the program pointed out “it is very helpful for you to tell Kyle your pets’ names, and which ones he shouldn’t get too close to.”

Refreshments were the next order of business. Dave Darrow manned the grill with an assistant, and communed with a bottle of red wine.

“Did we pass mustard?” he asked, passing over a platter of “dogs” to be consumed. In the activity center, quite a few of the actual dogs took a major interest in this part of the proceedings, and some had a treat slipped to them.

Animal assistance groups including For the Love of Cats and the Humane Society Naples were on hand. A cageful of kittens mostly remained aloof from the hubbub around them, with one cool cat named Ozzie taking the opportunity to get in a catnap. Rachael Johnston with the Humane Society brought their big truck with adoptable pets, and the group was the recipient of all donations during the event.

Bennett, whose own Portugese water dog was among the canines on hand, said he is always happy to see the companions of his flock.

“Every dog is unique,” he said.

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Comments » 5

MIOCENE (Inactive) writes:

“Every dog is unique,” he said

Yes. Especially those little white dogs that do nothing but YAP.

Please don't bless THEM, unless you ship them to the Vatican.

In a camper, motel, in a back yard, in a front window; no matter where they are; they do nothing but YAP.

Then they jump up and down without bending their legs; like they have springs on their feet; and YAP, YAP, YAP.

Some people have two or more of them jumping and YAPPING at the same time.

They never get tired of YAPPING. They YAP all day. They YAP at the mailman. They YAP at every car that goes by. They YAP at the wind. They YAP at birds. They YAP at the moon
They YAP at neighbors they've seen every day for years. They YAP, YAP, YAP and they YAP.

Every time I see one of those pathetic little evolutionary misfits; I want to put my hand around its miserable little yapping neck.

MrBreeze writes:

Spoken like a true Ahole. Maybee a hand around your miserable neck might help your frustration.

MIOCENE (Inactive) writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

Spoken like a true Ahole. Maybee a hand around your miserable neck might help your frustration.

Now, now now. That's not very Christlike. So at least it is clear that you are not a Christian.

"But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Luke 6:27-32

MrBreeze writes:

Dude, you know nothing. Anyone who would hurt the animals then quote the bible I think you are the "sick puppy" here.

More like a coward to me.

MIOCENE (Inactive) writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

Dude, you know nothing. Anyone who would hurt the animals then quote the bible I think you are the "sick puppy" here.

More like a coward to me.

You're concerned about quoting the bible and a bunch of stinking, smelly dogs?

Why?

The faithful have been quoting religious scripture; while killing and enslaving each other for over 2000 years; and it is still going on today.

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