Church of the Ascension hosts blessings for pets

The weather may have been unseasonably warm for early October.

But the warm sun and temperatures in the 80s did not dissuade area pet owners from bringing the four-legged members of their households to the Church of the Ascension to be blessed on Oct. 6.

About 30 people came to the Catholic church in Halethorpe for Sunday morning blessing that followed the 10:30 Mass, estimated Charlene Reilly, one of the organizers of the event.

The annual event coincides with the Oct. 4 feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals in the Roman Catholic Church.

"There were lots of dogs, a few cats, one rabbit and a hamster," Reilly said, adding that while the total number of attendees was the same as previous years, there seemed to be fewer cats this year.

Deacon Tom Yanuzzi offered a general prayer and blessing to those on the Poplar Avenue parking lot, then answered individual requests for blessings.

The owner of one young dog, for example, came to the event hoping for a blessing that would help improve the animal's behavior, Reilly said.

Another pet lover brought an ailing cat and asked the deacon to come to the car to deliver the blessing, keeping the cat in the vehicle so the animal would not infect the others at the scene.

Cat owners were asked to bring their animals in carriers, Reilly said, after an unfortunate incident several years ago when a cat made an abrupt exit from the scene. The animal was eventually found, she said.

And while the weather may have been better for baseball than football, there were plenty of pets attired in Ravens gear, Reilly said.

There were treats provided for the animals at the conclusion of the ceremony, Reilly said.

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