The festivities began early at about 7:15am when a couple dogs came up into the church's courtyard and right behind them came clopping two horses that were "rescue horses". By 7:30am the courtyard outside of church was filled with about 30 dogs, 8 cats, two turtles, ( one named Mary), 1 fish and the 2 rescue horses. Everyone remembered Mollie, the mule, who came every year for a blessing but sadly died last week. (She had no teeth anymore and choked on her food. She was about 40 years old.)
Fr. Ariel and Deacon Jim went to each pet individually and calling them by name blessed them in honor of St. Francis who loved animals dearly. There were vey unique names such as "Cletus" for a bassett hound. They each received a certificate from the church's secretary. There were only a few dogs that challenged each other.
The all school Mass started in the courtyard and many animals stayed for the Mass with their owners. Father A said all the pets could stay since all were Catholic now. The children were proud to have their pets there for all to see. Many parishioners stayed with their puppies on their laps. All were very quiet during the Mass except for the tiny chihuaha who growled through most of the Mass.
Father A is known for telling jokes during his homily. His joke today dealt with animals. He asked the children if there were pets in heaven-of course they are in heaven. Father A proceeded to tell them how when each pet reaches heaven they are given a vehicle to drive. When a rat reached heaven, he was given a skateboard. The cat looked at him on the skateboard and said, "Hmmmm-meals on wheels!" This brought a laugh from all.
At the end of Mass one little PreK girl took the collar off of her boxer who then took the opportunity to check out the other dogs. The master quickly caught him and put the collar back on.
The festivities continued as the pastor bought ice cream for all the students for lunch and a chocolate cake for Sr. Mary Gabriel and myself. We also received roses from one of the students.
The first St. Francis Day celebration was beautiful and very memorable!