All creatures great and small welcomed for pet blessing at St. Paul, Macomb

Jack Sparrow introduces his black rabbit, Invader, to Socks, held by Adalynne Lawerence after they were sprinkled with holy water at St. Paul in Macomb on Oct. 3. The prayer service and pet blessing is held each year in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

MACOMB — Nestled in the protective arms of Cora Pollmeier, 14-year-old Precious lived up to her name by behaving beautifully as Father Adam Stimpson, pastor, blessed her and the other dogs gathered in the St. Francis Garden of St. Paul Church for the parish’s annual pet blessing.

Father Adam Stimpson, pastor, prepares to sprinkle holy water on Pearl, who is receiving a loving stroke from Oliver O’Hern, at the pet blessing at St. Paul in Macomb on Oct. 3. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

The prayer service also brought cats, kittens, a rabbit and one brave hamster named Lex together on Oct. 3, the eve of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his love of creation. A few well-loved stuffed animals received a blessing, too.

The annual event is led by the second-graders from St. Paul School. Nicole Seward’s students proclaimed the Scripture reading and prayers of the faithful for the human participants, who joined them in singing “For the Beauty of the Earth,” Marty Haugen’s setting of “Canticle of the Sun,” and “Prayer of St. Francis.”

The pet blessing closed with the second-graders singing about what it would be like if they were animals, including a butterfly, elephant, kangaroo, octopus and crocodile, with movements for each one. In the end, though, they thanked God for “making me me.”

As their way of caring for creatures great and small, the children invited their classmates and parishioners to help the McDonough County Animal Shelter and the pet portion of Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry by donating food and toys for dogs and cats, cat litter, paper towels and dish soap. Monetary gifts are also being accepted.

After singing about many different kinds of animals, second-graders Sergio Canavate, Lauren Young and Grace O’Hern put their hands together in a prayer of thanksgiving to God for “making me me.” (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Before he walked through the people and pets to sprinkle them with holy water, Father Stimpson asked for God’s blessing, saying, “In your goodness you have made us in your image and given us care over all living things. Reach out your right hand and grant that these animals, through the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi, may serve our needs and that your bounty and the resources of this life may move us to seek more confidently the goal of eternal life.”

Among those to receive a blessing was Goatee, a black and white cat, and her four kittens.

“This will get them off to a good start,” said Theresa Young, whose son, Lauren, is a second-grader at St. Paul School.

Natural curiosity brought some of the pets together, while Invader, a black rabbit, and Socks, a black and white cat, got a formal introduction from their young friends Jack Sparrow and Adalynne Lawerence.

Some of the pets, such as principal Laura Cody’s two black Labrador Retrievers, received a blessing from afar. One is 10 months old and too frisky to attend, she said, and the other has been blessed for all of its 12 and a half years, “so it’s working.”

“I’ve been here going on 24 years and we’ve done it every year,” Cody told The Catholic Post about the pet blessing. “It always proves to be very entertaining and fun and special to the kids. They get to bring their pets and their pets get blessed, and we know how important it is to have blessings.”

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