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Blessing God's gift to humans (Video)

By Carolina Astrain
Oct. 4, 2012 at 5:04 a.m.

Elena Rodriguez, 8, nuzzles her cat Maggie while the feline and other pets are blessed by the Rev. Stan DeBoe in honor  of St. Francis of Assisi's love for all creatures at Nazareth Academy. In addition to cats, pet owners brought their dogs, turtles, guinea pigs and rabbits for DeBoe to bless on Thursday.

Barks, meows and light chatter engulfed the air as they approached the playground.

Parents showed up to Nazareth Academy just before the last bell rang with pets in tow.

The animals waited for their share of holy water and a blessing by Father Stan DeBoe.

The Blessing of the Animals is an annual tradition celebrated by Catholic schools in the area to honor St. Francis of Assisi's love for all creatures and feast day, which is Oct. 4.

Dashing up from behind, Drew Sanchez sprang onto his father's shoulders.

The startled father had been waiting with his wife, Robin Sanchez, for their 12-year-old son with the family guinea pig and dog.

"We've been coming every year to this event," the mother said. "It's important for the kids to know that pets need to be blessed, too."

Drew stroked his guinea pig's fine black, brown and white hair into tranquility.

"Taking care of the pets is their responsibility," the father said.

A happy burden that 11-year-old Kendall Kabela said she takes very seriously.

"I don't want to risk taking her out," said Kendall as she held her cat, Lightning, shut in the kennel. "I'm afraid she'll run away; she's skittish."

The sixth-grader gently lifted Lightning into the air and walked over to DeBoe for the blessing.

While she tended to Lightning, a mass of students surrounded Kendall's rabbit, Libby, that she is raising for an upcoming stock show.

"They're good friends," Kendall said.

Kendall said she chose to bring Lightning, the latest member of her family of 12 cats.

"We've gotten really close lately," Kendall said. "You can tell because she's started following me around more."

Across the playground, Sister Ann Meletio gazed at the children frolicking back and forth with their animals. In her arms, she held a plush, toy skunk awarded to her earlier this year for catching four live ones since January.

Meletio said, "They used to be a real problem; the smell was just awful."

The sister said the skunks have not been a problem lately at the convent, where they had been living under the building.

"We're out in the country," Meletio said. "It's just a part of life."

Next to the sister and her stuffed trophy, 10-year-old Clayton Moore smiled proudly at his dog, Harley.

"He's been having problems getting to the doggie door in time" Clayton said. "I hope the blessing helps him get better about it."

After the sound of steps and chatter disappeared from the playground's pavement, the students started to leave.

DeBoe stood by the school's corner, bidding farewell to students and their pets.

"We're called to be responsible for our pets," said DeBoe, who brought his dogs, Betty and Chuy, along for the blessing.

DeBoe said pets are God's gift to humans.

"They don't have thumbs," DeBoe said. "They need us to live."



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