Twenty dogs, two cats, two rats and their assorted guardians came to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley on Sunday for a Blessing of Pets.
The traditional ceremony is held annually on the Sunday following the feast of St. Francis Assisi, a saint revered for his kindness to animals (and the homeless). This year, the event place took at 9:30 a.m. on the lawn in front of the church at 2300 Bancroft Way.
Following the blessing, the pets took a break and reconvened in church.
Tim Sullivan, a member of the church, said the blessing of pets is often a “howling good time” — with dogs matching notes with the organ. “One year, a pet rat showed up and drove the terriers crazy,” he said. The absence of terriers this year prevented that particular problem.
As well as tending to the animals in its congregation, St. Mark’s runs a host of programs in the city to help people in need. It feeds the homeless once a month (in cooperation with other churches who host meals on other days), brings meals to the city youth shelter’s YEAH! program, houses a suitcase clinic run by Berkeley students, and the church’s parishioners visit a convalescent home once a month. For more information, visit the church’s website.