JOHN DAY - From a hermit crab in an aquarium to a dachshund-terrier mix that was spared from the dog pound, pets of all stripes received the blessing of Father Julian Cassar during a weekend ceremony at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church.
The 900-year-old tradition of the "Blessing of Pets and Animals" took place Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 4-5, in honor of the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
Father Cassar led a short ceremony in front of the the church after mass on Saturday and repeated the ceremony on Sunday. Other ceremonies were planned at mission churches at Dale and Monument.
Flanked by altar servers Bob Ledgerwood, 13, and Joe Bellinger, 18, Father Cassar conducted the blessing. He recited the following passage:
"As we gather to celebrate the Patron Saint of Animals and Pets, the beloved St. Francis of Assisi, let us offer these prayers to our heavenly Father.
"1. For all those who work with animals, especially ranchers, and farmers, we pray to the Lord.
"2. For all animals that work in fields during the hot summer months and cold wintry months, we pray to the Lord.
"3. For all pets as they keep us companionship and show love and affection, we pray to the Lord.
"4. For all stray animals who suffer especially during the harsh wintry months, that they will not suffer, we pray to the Lord."
The ensuing prayer appealed for human gratitude and God's protection for animals.
Burns residents Pat and Joe Ruvio and their 9-year-old daughter, Marrissa, brought their German wire-haired pointer, Annie, and American pitbull, Ben, for Sunday's ceremony. Lily, a Jack Russell terrier, missed the trip due to a dislike for riding in cars.
Twelve-year-old Lincoln Mosier of John Day presented his hermit crab for the blessing. Karla Averett and her 10-year-old son, Ian, brought Buster the Boxer.
Julie Mathews of John Day presented her dachshund-terrier mix, Rudy. She said Rudy was spared from the dog pound and lived to receive the sprinkling of water in this special celebration. Mathews did draw the line, however.
"I didn't bring my seven cats," she said.