Father Bill Mason, OMI, blesses one of God's creatures at a blessing of the animals at Sacred Heart Church in Oakland.
CARRIE MCCLISH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
Sacred Heart Parish celebrates blessings
of domestic animals
"Can't you just back up a little and then bless me?" Sheba, a tiny black doggy, seemed to be thinking as she glanced up at Rev. Bill Mason, OMI, as the towering priest extended a hand in prayer toward her and her "mom," Mary Terry.
Zach, a curly-haired, four-legged ball of energy, couldn't stop moving or smiling as the holy water rained down on him as his mom, Tina Soublet, also smiling, stood behind him.
Meanwhile Mary Robertson brought her "baby," Sunny, a bright orange tom cat who sat quietly in his hot pink colored rolling carrier as he observed the event. Sunny was probably quite relieved that the "v-e-t" was nowhere in sight.
Sheba, Zach and Sunny as well as a parrot, a dachshund, a trio of frisky terriers and a bunch of stuffed animals of many sizes, shapes and colors, were among the special guests invited to Oakland's Sacred Heart Church to participate in the Blessing of the Animals service that took place following the 10 a.m. Mass on Oct. 2.
Father Mason presided at the service two days prior to the Feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the 12th- century patron saint of animals and ecology. To the best of everyone's knowledge, this was the first time that Sacred Heart Parish, which celebrated its 140th anniversary as a worship community in June, hosted such a celebration of God's creatures. The Oblate pastor, who joined the parish in 2015, scheduled the blessing service as a new way to engage the congregation and bring together people of all ages who attended three different weekend Masses.
From the smiles that filled the faces of people who stayed to witness the service both inside and outside of the church to those who stayed to visit the furry and feathered creatures in attendance and their people, the parishioners — including this reporter — came away feeling very blessed themselves.
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