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Pets receive blessings at St. Mary’s in Sycamore

Deacon Lee Deatherage blesses two pugs with holy water at a blessing of pets in recognition of Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi on Friday at St. Mary's Catholic School in Sycamore.
Deacon Lee Deatherage blesses two pugs with holy water at a blessing of pets in recognition of Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi on Friday at St. Mary's Catholic School in Sycamore.

SYCAMORE – With a few sprinkles of holy water, the French bulldog Dash Batman became graced by God.

Dash belongs to Sycamore resident Jenny Kingren’s son, Charlie, and was brought for an official blessing Friday to St. Mary’s Catholic School in Sycamore. Catholic Church officials bless animals on Oct. 4 to mark the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, who was the patron saint of animals. 

Deacon Lee Deatherage, who officiated at Friday’s ceremony, said he’s blessed pets such as lizards, kittens and gerbils. In the past, between 30 to 40 animals would be brought for a blessing but because of Friday’s wet weather, there were about only a dozen. 

Kingren said Dash is a laid-back companion for her family. Having a pet like him is great for her children, because it shows them how to be compassionate and caring, she said. Friday’s blessing was a way to make Dash part of the family’s faith and teach her son about St. Francis of Assisi. 

“It was a good opportunity to show him the blessing of all the animals,” she said. 

During the ceremony, Deatherage read from a book of blessings and intoned the importance of animals in people’s lives by citing biblical examples of animals helping people. Deatherage asked God for animals to continue to provide comfort for his people. 

“We invoke the divine blessing of these animals for the intercession of St. Francis,” he said during the ceremony. 

The dogs who were brought to the ceremony barked at one another before the ceremony, but grew calmer once it began. Deatherage blessed each of them with holy water once it was over. 

Sycamore resident Bryan Jurewicz brought his Great Dane Adonis for her second blessing at the school. He said he brings his dog to the ceremony because his son attends the school. 

“I think it’s good for the children,” he said. 

Deatherage said he’s been leading pet blessing ceremonies for five years. Because St. Francis of Assisi was a deacon and not a priest, churches typically ask deacons to carry out the blessings, he said. 

It’s not uncommon for the church to bless other things besides people for the glory of God, he said. 

“The church in the beginning [has] always done it this way,” he said. 

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