Ali Miguel, who attends Mass regularly at The Grotto, holds her dog during the service. (Sarah Wolf/Catholic Sentinel)
Ali Miguel, who attends Mass regularly at The Grotto, holds her dog during the service. (Sarah Wolf/Catholic Sentinel)

“All creatures of our God and king, lift up your voice and with us sing, Alleluia, Alleluia,” sang the crowd amid a sea of barks. And so began The Grotto’s 38th annual blessing of the animals.

Dogs, birds and hamsters were just a handful of the creatures brought by their owners to be blessed during the Sunday afternoon event on Oct. 3, the eve of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

“Today we give thanks to God for the gift of the pets, the gift of the animals that we bring today in confidence in bestowing God’s blessing upon them,” said Servite Father Vidal Martinez.

“St. Francis had a very special care for all of creation and especially his relationship with the animals that God put in his life. So today, we ask St. Francis’ intercession on our behalf as well,” he continued.

The service proceeded with readings from Genesis and Psalms before those gathered processed to the front to have their creatures blessed by the Servite friars.

Alexandra Sullivan grew up Methodist but went to Catholic school in her youth. She brought her dog out for the blessing.

“I thought it was a really cool idea where you could bring your pets to church and have something centered around your dog where you can bring him with you,” said Sullivan.

The pews of The Grotto’s outdoor church were filled with Christians relishing the opportunity to have the Servites call God’s favor down upon their beloved critters.

“We’re thankful for our pets and we see them as a creature of God,” said Liz Havley, a member at St. Henry Parish in Gresham.

“It’s something her parents have done forever,” said her husband, Greg, adding that his wife used to come to The Grotto’s animal blessing when she was a child. The couple brought their dog Cali, who received the blessing with a wagging tail.

sarahw@catholicsentinel.org