(Photo by Christina Gray/Catholic San Francisco)
St. Mary’s Cathedral Deacon Christoph Sandoval sprinkled three horses and officers from the San Francisco Police Mounted Unit with holy water and blessed them at a Blessing for the Animals Oct. 1.
Blessing: ‘Animals bring out what is good in us’
October 4th, 2016
By Christina Gray
A parade of beloved dogs, cats, birds, horses, rabbits and even hamsters with their human companions gathered in the plaza in front of St. Mary’s Cathedral on Oct. 1 to receive a blessing during the annual Blessing of the Animals.
The popular event observed in many parishes coincides with the feast of St. Francis of Assisi on Oct. 4.
“It is but fitting that we praise God and thank him for blessing us with our pets,” said cathedral rector Father Arturo Albano in a ceremony on the steps of the cathedral that included readings from Deacon Christoph Sandoval, music from the St. Mary’s children’s choir and a symphony of barks, chirps and meows.
With his own sheepdog Timo at his side, Father Albano said that animals are blessings to human beings. They can soothe our anger and sadness and bring out the best in us.
“Animals bring out what is good in us, what is good and beautiful,” he said, showing us what we are capable of. “They bring out our human-ness and the humane feelings we have for one another in how we treat each other.”
The Knights of St. Francis, co-sponsors of the event, brought each pet owner and pet forward to Father Albano and Deacon Sandoval for their individual blessing.
Shirley Costello, a resident of one of the apartment towers across from the cathedral brought Cubby Cat Costello, a mellow tabby, after seeing a flyer in the lobby. None of the neighbors she came with are Catholic, she said, but they didn’t think that mattered.
“There’s even a nice Jewish dog here,” she said, pointing to a fluffy white dog in the arms of a friend.
Three horses from the San Francisco Police Mounted Unit appeared confused by the holy water sprinkled on them by Deacon Sandoval, to the amusement of the crowd.
Richard Hernandez of St. Dominic Parish brought his three white doves, all named Angel. He said he shares them with the grieving at cemeteries around the Bay Area
“The only time they smile is when they see Angel,” he said. “The tears just dry up like magic.”
Hernandez said his doves were an unexpected gift. “If you are nice to animals, God will be good to you,” he said.
From October 6, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.