By Suzanne Pender
LIKE something from Noah’s Ark, the animals queued patiently – dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, even the occasional rat, all lined up for their drive-by blessing!
Fr John Dunphy, PP, Graiguecullen/Killeshin held his annual Blessing of the Pets ceremony on Sunday and, to an almost biblical scale, the animals arrived … all, of course, observing Covid-19 restrictions and mindfully keeping their distance!
The Level 3 guidelines and ban on gatherings meant that this year’s pets’ blessing became a unique drive-by event with dozens of beloved pooches happily sticking their heads out of car windows for a quick prayer and a sprinkling of holy water.
In fact, such was the demand that it wasn’t long before a queue of traffic was carefully snaking through the grounds of St Clare’s Church, Graiguecullen.
“I have my own dog and, sure look, pets are your life … they are part of the family,” said Fr Dunphy. “Some people arrived with sick pets and were adamant they wanted them blessed. But we had all sorts of pets – dogs, cats, rabbits … even rats,” he added.
Fr Dunphy explained that while normally the blessing of the pets takes place in the yard of St Clare’s Church, current restrictions meant there couldn’t be gatherings. Then on the day they’d planned the ceremony – Sunday 4 October, the feast day for St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment – the heavens opened!
Global pandemic, torrential rain and floods … Fr Dunphy and animal lovers in the parish were not for turning, so the date was changed to last weekend. The wonderful atmosphere on Sunday lifted the mood among so many, including the animals, with each given a €5 voucher for Maxi Zoo, a little treat and a special prayer to bring home.
Fr Dunphy offered his thanks to the volunteers who helped out, including Seán O’Drsicoll, Liz Hosey and her daughter Meghan and Catriona Kelly.
“There was a great atmosphere and everyone was in great form. It’s lovely to be able to do it and the animals were all so well behaved, too,” said Fr Dunphy.