Animals blessed in honor of St. Francis

Students brought pets to be blessed during a ceremony commemorating the Feast of St. Francis.


Kira Daley

Reverend John De La Riva sprinkles holy water on pets during a slight rain shower. De La Riva called the animals up by their size to bless them.

Mary Perez and Kira Daley

Animals of all shapes and sizes came together this morning in front of the Flood Mansion to be blessed in celebration of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

“I thought today’s ceremony was lovely,” Deacon Eddy Gutierrez said. “What I liked best about it was we’re here to bless the pets, but the reason we do it is to show the love we have for God’s creation, which is emblematic of St. Francis’s mission.”

The four schools invited students to bring their pets for blessings by Gutierrez and Reverend John De La Riva, regardless of their own personal religious beliefs.

“I had never seen a dog blessing before,” sophomore Samantha Stovell, who had her dog blessed, said. “I come from a Jewish family, so this is something I never heard of.”

The animals and their owners gathered to receive a blessing and get sprinkled with holy water from both Gutierrez and De La Riva.

“You can’t exactly bring a dog to Mass and I thought it was cool that they did this sort of thing just for animals,” freshman Catherine Webb-Purkis said. “I thought it was so cool because people brought like every type of animal — I even saw a turtle and a fish.”

The blessing recited by De La Riva asked for all of the animals to be blessed by God in honor of St. Francis.

“Today is just one of those days where it is fun to be Catholic, not just for the joy of being with our pets, but what they represent to us,” Gutierrez said. “At the end of the day, it gives us an opportunity to show love — and being that God is the source of all love and goodness, we get to rejoice with him.”