The Blessing of the Animals during the feast of St. Francis of Assisi had dogs of all shapes and sizes lining up with their owners to have Rev. Rolando Rivera bless the canines and one pair of cats.
The annual benediction was Thursday, Oct. 4, at the Virgin De Guadalupe Catholic Church in Mesquite
St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and every year on or about the Feast of St. Francis, Christian churches all over the country participate in the yearly event.
One Mesquite resident, Janice Mace, said she believes that the blessings are key to her dog Misty’s longevity, along with the daily exercise that Misty gets. Misty is 21 years old. She and Mace’s other dog Tucker take a daily walk around the Pioneer Center at Sun City-Mesquite and then take a swim in Mace’s pool.
Both are rescued dogs. Tucker came from the Mesquite Animal Shelter and Misty was brought up from another town by a friend who noticed the dog wasn’t being well cared for. Mace has had her dogs blessed several times but this was their first time here in Mesquite.
Ken and Cathy Mingo-Boyd brought their dogs Tippy and Tina, as well as a neighbor’s pet. Tippy came to live with the Mingo-Boyds before they moved to Mesquite; he was found as a stray at an automobile plant where Ken worked in Youngstown, Ohio. The Mingo-Boyds put up signs and newspaper ads to find the dog’s owner and thought they had until the man showed up to claim his lost dog. When Tippy came to the door the man’s hopes were shattered, it wasn’t his dog. Tippy had a small spot of white on his chest, the man’s dog was pure black.
Tina was adopted by the couple in Mesquite. At first, the dog was to stay with them only for foster care, but within two hours, she was theirs for life.
Canines of all shapes and sizes came for their blessings, and it wasn’t always their owners on the other end of the leash. Arlene Collins brought Bear, a large Great Pyrenees owned by her son, who had to work that day. Actually, the large dog seemed to be leading Collins.
The canines and their humans lined up outside of the church and each said a prayer along with Rivera and waited patiently to receive the sprinkle of Holy Water and the blessings to come.
Only one cat-owner braved the canine-dominated event.
Don Bihler brought his cats, Thomas and Red. The felines were in their carriers and seemed unconcerned about the dogs, most of which were smaller than the pair of cats.
Bihler found the pair of kittens in Florida 12 years ago. They waited quietly and patiently in their carriers for their blessing; they didn’t flinch much when Rivera sprinkled them with Holy Water.
According to church teachings, St. Francis believed that God's creation and especially God's creatures can reveal to humans something of His nature and love for mankind. And the faithful could easily believe that’s true by the peaceful way the animals awaited and accepted their blessings during the ceremony.
(Editor Kent Harper contributed to this report)