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Recognizing Mankinds Friends
From tiny snapping turtles to a 300-plus pound calf, numerous animals of all sizes, breeds, shapes and species gathered on the playground lawn Tuesday morning at St. Anne’s School.
Some came willingly, others reluctantly, some wore faux jewels and fur, some were au-natural. But all came with one purpose — to attend the annual St. Anne’s Blessing of the Animals — a tradition at St. Anne’s School since 1987.
Sitting on the bleachers was Paul Prescott, a school alumni who graduated in 1999, on hand to take his little sister’s Chihuahua home after the blessing.
As he watched, Amy Prescott ran around showing off her small dog, which was dressed in a hot-dog costume.
“I remember doing this every year from kindergarten to eighth grade. It was always something we looked forward to, kind of like a show-off thing. We loved it and kids still do,” Prescott said. “It’s beautiful. You can bring anything from a turtle to gold fish and birds. They are all God’s creatures. They are all here to be blessed.”
Emerald, a Green Cheek Conure Parrot wearing a blue flight suit — also known as a diaper — appeared to love all the attention it was receiving as it sat on Audrey Garcia’s finger and later on a classmate’s head. Emerald appeared right at home, pecking on Ryan Cometa’s head, as other classmates gathered around giggling.
June, a Jersey calf, did not have a diaper, but she did have a young student nearby with a shovel — just in case.
“I thought it would be interesting to have her here today,” said student Emily True as numerous students gathered around to pet the 1-year-old calf’s soft coat.
Not far away was Tiger Lily and Pansy — two crying 5-week-old pygmy goats who baah’d as Julie Gomez and her friend, Claire Nuno held them in their arms.
Chica, a 1-year-old Dachshund, also had a lot of attention. Though she stood quietly at the side of her owner, Eric Ogas, every student was curious about her scabbed back.
“It was a black widow bite,” Ogas repeated again and again as students asked.
Chica was in need of a blessing and healing — the reason for her attendance.
Though most pets were dogs, they were well-mannered, with minimal, if any, barking.
Little dogs spent some time in students’ arms. Large dogs appeared to drag small students by a leash, and others stood or walked quietly next to their owners.
But not Chip. The tiny Yorkie wearing a tiny sweater kept students fit by running nonstop all over the playground.
“He loves to play and run,” said Caitrin Guerrero, 7.
Coco Chanel — a white frilly Shihtzu-Chihuahua mix known as the “Foo Foo dog of the neighborhood” — appeared high maintenance in her pink, sparkly bow and outfit. But she might have only been scared as she looked around at all the other dogs and animals from the comfort of St. Anne’s student, Blanca Magana’s, arms.
“When the kids got baptized, they went home and slept. It was relaxing. We’re going to be watching her. There’s something in the blessing — the Holy Spirit,” said Blanca’s father, Isidro Magana. “It’s interesting to know how God works even through animals. This teaches the children the importance of receiving God’s blessings. When you ask God for something, he really gives it to you.”
The annual blessing of the animals is something that has been done since the Middle Ages, said the Rev. Scott Daugherty, fondly known as Father Scott. The school has hosts the blessing in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who gave away all his money and finer clothes to become a traveling preacher, working for the poor, trying to bring peace, and showing great love for all of God’s creatures. Assisting with the prayers were students Amy Prescott and Matthew Brown.