By Wendy Holdren
Dogs of all breeds, cats, a rabbit and even a squirrel were brought by their owners Sunday to the annual “Animal Blessing,” hosted by St. Stephen Episcopal and St. Luke Lutheran churches.
“We’ve had the blessing of the animals for many years, but this is the first year we’ve had them together,” explained Wanda Childs, pastor at St. Luke.
She and Jon White, rector at St. Stephen, invited everyone to bring their pets for a blessing Sunday at Jim Word Memorial Park in Uptown Beckley.
“We usually have the blessing at each of our separate churches, but this year, we wanted to make it a public, outdoor event,” White added.
Childs said the annual pet blessing is in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
“This event has really become popular over the past 15 or 20 years,” Childs said.
The furry friends gathered around the gazebo at the park, sniffing and greeting one another before the blessings got started.
Ann Lilly, of Daniels, who attends St. Stephen, brought her dog Helen for a blessing.
“Helen is a rescue dog,” Lilly said. “She’s old and she’s wonderful. Old dogs make the best dogs.”
One caged critter, an injured squirrel, fell off a power line and was paralyzed, said the person who brought him. “He’s also had a bout with mites and lice, and we just thought he needs to be blessed.”
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