FORT MILL — Nearly a dozen dogs of all ages and temperaments received blessings in what’s become an annual local ritual.
The Rev. Sally Franklin of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church held a St. Francis Blessing of the Animals ceremony in Walter Elisha Park on Oct. 20.
“The first part of October we celebrate St. Francis Day, so we usually do it on a Sunday in October,” Franklin said.
“It’s a chance to celebrate God’s gift of animals to us, especially pets.”
Fort Mill residents Debi Waldrop and Jim Redmond brought their dogs, Pebbles and Winslow.
“We just started a program that will train them to be therapy dogs for the sick and elderly,” said Waldrop. “At this point, they need all of the blessings they can get.”
Franklin began the ceremony with prayer and continued by reading from the books of Psalms and Matthew.
In between prayers, Steve Bates-Congdon pulled out his guitar and sang “God gave names to all the animals.”
After the music, each animal was individually blessed by Franklin.
Some people had more broad reasons to bring their pets to be blessed. A St. Paul’s parishioner named Janice brought her 7-year-old golden retriever, Roxy, just to receive a blessing of good health.
“It’s a nice thing the church does,” she said, “Roxie is a member of our family and we love her dearly.”
Franklin wrapped up the ceremony with “The Blessing Prayer.” Before each dog left, it was given a biscuit.