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Yearly pet blessing draws animal lovers, mourners

October 2, 2018

While others arrived Sunday at the St. Francis statue clutching leashes, Kathy and Skip Calvin carried a wood pet urn, the remains of their longtime dog, Lola, inside.

The couple brought the part beagle, part Shih Tzu to the University of Saint Francis’ annual blessing of pets, a ceremony just as meaningful in mourning, they said.

Although Lola died in May, Skip Calvin said the months have not erased the grief of losing the 16-year-old pooch.

“She was his walking buddy,” Kathy Calvin said. “All the neighbors knew her, too.”

Just as he did for the other pets gathered outside Brookside Mansion, university chaplain David Meinzen blessed Lola’s remains, sprinkling holy water on the urn.

With only three other dogs to bless, the ceremony was brief.

Sister Anita Holzmer, the organizer, suspected an earlier start time affected turnout. The event typically attracts at least 15 to 20 pets, she said.

Dogs and cats are most common, Holzmer said, but some years have included a bunny and chickens.

She has even invited students to bring their stuffed animals.

“Nobody’s ever taken me up on it,” Holzmer said.

Sophomore Lindsey Keller brought her puppy, an old English sheepdog, to the blessing with hopes it would improve the dog’s behavior.

“I’ve heard that before,” Holzmer said.

There’s another reason why people bring their pets.

“They love their pets,” she said, “and they want some recognition from God their pets are valuable.”

asloboda@jg.net

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