Print Animals count their blessings
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Thursday, 09 December 2010 00:01

People have depended on priests to provide blessings for years, but what about the animals?

An event this weekend in Camp Verde has the community’s furry friends covered.

Some local businesspeople banded together to throw the Blessing of the Animals Festival, and they hope it turns out to be a big event.

The Rev. Reynaldo Clutario visits with a puppy available for adoption and currently being housed at the Camp Verde Animal Shelter on Thursday, Dec. 2. The St. Francis Cabrini Parish priest will perform an animal blessing at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 12, in the New Thrift Store parking lot.“[My wife] Ramona originally wanted to do the running of the sheep,” Paul Aldridge said. “They did it in Texas with some goats.”
In the end, they decided an animal blessing ceremony might be a little easier to put together this year.

The event is set for Sunday, Dec. 12.

The group got in touch with Father Reynaldo Clutario at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church, and he agreed to conduct the blessing ceremony.

“The blessing of the animals has been a part of Catholic tradition,” Clutario said. “Usually it’s done on the day of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis was well known as a lover of animals.”

Organizers report everything from aardvarks to zebras are welcome, but unless the residents at Out of Africa show up, attendees can expect to mostly see the more common types of pets on hand to receive their blessing.

Clutario said he will bless all of the animals at once in a short ceremony.

Aldridge said there will be plenty of activities to keep people around besides the blessing, including an open air festival atmosphere with vendors and live music. Santa Claus’ lesser known sidekick, Santa Paws, will be on hand for photo opportunities with the pets. There will also be food, and those who have their pet blessed will get a certificate.

Jake, the K-9 deputy with the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office, is scheduled to be there to represent the four-footed professionals in the community. There might even be a guy or two in a gorilla suit.

Even though the ceremony will be conducted by a Catholic priest, the event is billed as nondenominational.

Blessing the animals is a way to acknowledge what they have done for people over the years.

“Animals are God’s creation,” Clutario said. “They bring happiness and joy to people.”The event is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 12, at the New Thrift Store, 1575 S. Roadrunner Lane. The blessing is set for 1 p.m.

For more information, call 567-5759.