Blessing of the animals in Tupelo

TUPELO – Dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs and a monkey – along with their owners – lined up to be blessed at the 16th annual Blessing of the Animals at All Saints’ Episcopal Church on Sunday.
More than 100 pets were brought to the church, where several blessings were read aloud, and then Rev. Paul Stephens blessed each animal with a quick prayer.
Stephens said he’s heard plenty of funny stories about the pets from their owners.
“Sometimes they’ll say, ‘Gosh, can we loop back around and get another blessing?’ or ‘Do you do exorcisms?’” he said, laughing. “They’re just beautiful, and are all God’s creatures.”
Among those receiving a blessing was Austin, a golden canine belonging to Alexis Hall, 10, of Saltillo.
“He’s been blessed five times,” Hall said, adding that Austin has been blessed every year he’s been alive.
“He needs a special blessing this year; he has heartworms,” said Alexis’ grandmother, Cathy Sparks.
Other critters who needed a special blessing were Buster, Pumpkin and Faith, two dogs and a cat, respectively, who are in need of homes. The trio were brought to the blessing by the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society.
“They’re going to go back and tell their friends that they had a special blessing,” said shelter director Debbie Hood.
The most exotic creature blessed was Stewie, a five-month-old capuchin monkey and the third son of the famous monkey Oliver at the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo.

Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal