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Twelve-year-old David Brown held Athena in his hands as the Rev. Marty Stebbins leaned in and gently touched the crested gecko.
“This is the first time she’s been to the Blessing of the Animals,” David later said. Athena was one of several creatures great and small who received a special prayer Sunday afternoon at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church.
The annual service is held to honor the human-animal bond. The church also holds the blessing service in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi, who is known as the patron saint of animals.
David said Stebbins’ Sunday blessing for Athena was one of hope.
“Hopeful that she would have a good life and hopeful that she lives long,” the 12-year-old said.
St. Timothy’s has held the special service since the 1990s.
‘OUR FRIENDS, THE ANIMALS’
Prior to the blessings, Stebbins read a prayer aloud focused on “our friends, the animals.”
“Make us ourselves to be true friends to animals and so to share the blessings of the merciful, through Jesus Christ our Lord,” she prayed.
Stebbins also read a portion of Genesis.
Grace Watkevich held her small three-month-old dog, Delilah.
“She’s the sweetest little thing,” Watkevich said as she played with Delilah. “This has been the perfect little addition to my little family.”
Watkevich said she just got her new furry friend three weeks ago and she wanted to bring Delilah to Sunday’s service.
“Let’s bless her so that she can bring some good to my life and be a good companion,” she said.
The church accepted pet food donations for the Hungry Pet Food Bank of Wilson and collected cash donations to benefit the Maggie Society.
Vickie Thompson, who is a member of St. Timothy’s and is involved with the Maggie Society, brought her dog, Mila.
“Everybody needs a blessing,” she said.
Thompson had fostered Mila and her sister, but decided to keep Mila permanently. There was just something about her, Thompson said.
“She just wanted to be held and would do anything with anybody,” she said. Thompson, who has a big heart for animals, has fostered more than 70 puppies.