By Marconi Calindas
The CNMI will mark another first in the Pacific when it holds the Blessing of Pets this Sunday at the Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Susupe.
The Blessing of Pets is a worldwide celebration coinciding with the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, which falls every Oct. 4.
Fr. Ryan Jimenez of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa will preside over the 20-minute ceremony at the façade of the cathedral. Jimenez said the actual celebration should have been held yesterday in time for the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.However, they decided to move it on Sunday in time for the scheduled pastoral address of the diocese.
The ceremony will start at 8am before the Sunday Mass at 9am. Jimenez said during the ceremony he would be sharing a brief homily and a liturgy stressing the love for pets.
Jimenez said the project was introduced by the Pet Assistance and Welfare Services. “We were inspired by PAWS, which is doing a lot to take care of pets in the CNMI. We believe that this would bring awareness for owners to be more responsible in taking care of their pets,” he said.
PAWS president Katie Busenkell said the U.S. Humane Society had urged the group to observe World Animal Day, which falls on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. She said the national animal rights group asked for documentation and photographs to be published in its online magazine.
PAWS contacted the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa three weeks ago and was elated to receive a positive response from Bishop Tomas A. Camacho and Fr. Glen Ragsag.PAWS is encouraging all pet owners from any denomination, Catholics and non-Catholics, to participate in the ceremony. However, pets should either leashed or brought in cages for the ceremony. The group is also asking pet owners to clean the area after the ceremony.
World Animal Day is a day dedicated to honoring, blessing, and protecting animals all over the world. According to the Animal Chaplains website, World Animal Day was founded at an ecologist’s convention in Florence, Italy in 1931 as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species.
Oct. 4 was chosen as World Animal Day because it is also the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, a Catholic Church holiday which is often celebrated with an annual "blessing of the pets.” Since then, it has grown to encompass all kinds of animal life and has been widely celebrated around the world.