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7/21/2013 7:18:00 PM
Grotto blessing honors animals
Father Jack Topper blesses Rocky, who is held by owner Ammie Sison.
Father Jack Topper blesses Rocky, who is held by owner Ammie Sison.
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A dog naps before the pet blessing starts.

Four-legged friends were blessed today at the Grotto’s 30th annual Blessing of the Animals.

The ecumenical prayer service, led by Servite Father Jack Topper and Sister Josefina Zermeño, gave pet owners a chance to give thanks for their animals.

“They give us so much joy in so many ways,” said Father Topper, as he welcomed everyone to the outdoor chapel. “They are such a blessing to all of us.”

Most of the creatures that trotted up to be blessed were of the canine variety, although there were a few kittens, and one critter that rode in a dirt-filled box.

“For all animals wild and tame, we give you thanks, Oh Lord,” Father Topper said during a petition offered during the intercessions.

Mark Ellis never misses the annual Blessing of the Animals. His own dog Jack, a Jack Russell terrier, died two years ago, but Ellis still returns to witness the tradition each summer and remember his friend.

“It’s the cutest ritual in the Catholic faith,” he said.

Animal blessing is a custom that honors St. Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures.

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