Man’s best friend a blessing
Celebrant Father Bernard Balaraj brought his budgerigars and a dog or two, and Bishop Michael Morrissey his cat, but Father Robert Cross was empty-handed.
Just as the Blessing of the Animals ceremony was about to start at St Francis Xavier Cathedral on Sunday, Father Cross was asked where his animal was.
“I’ve brought fleas,” he replied to fits of laughter.
A self-proclaimed despiser of screeching birds, he then added: “Where’s the corellas? Hopefully, not coming.”
It was mostly dogs, and a couple of cats, and the two budgerigars, named Jack and Beck, who were at the 15-minute ceremony, which included prayers for the good health of animals and a blessing with the sprinkling of holy water.
“I’m a teetotaller, but the budgies are named after Jack (Daniel’s) and Beck (Beck’s beer). I’m also looking after Foxy, a chihuahua,” Father Balaraj said.
Bishop Morrissey had to closely guard rising 18-year-old moggie Penelope, who attracted plenty of looks and growls from dogs.
This was the first Blessing of the Animals ceremony held by St Francis Xavier Cathedral.
It is a unique ceremony in the Roman Catholic Church, having been started by St Francis of Assisi in 1212.
St Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and ecology.
“He loved all creatures,” Fr Balaraj said.
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