MARYSVILLE — “May God bless you and your human,” was the phrase of the day on Sunday, Oct. 6, as St. Philip’s Episcopal Church hosted a Blessing of the Animals at their church in Marysville and at Jones & Co. Pets on State Avenue.
“When I bless the animals, it’s a recognition of how beautiful all these creatures are,” said Terry Kyllo, pastor at St. Philip’s. “People will look at us and ask, ‘What are they doing?’ — because we live in a place where 70 percent of people don’t do church. But, I’m not really changing anything, it’s not magic. It’s an intimate and trusting experience. For many people pets are a part of the family and they may find comfort in having them blessed.”
The Blessing of the Animals is a tradition that the church has repeated for more than 30 years, and many other churches across the globe participate in as well. This is the first year that St. Philip’s church members held a blessing outside of their own building and it drew in many participants who hadn’t heard of the practice before or didn’t know it was available in Washington.
“I’ve actually done this before, back in Virginia,” said Melissa McPherson, who was shopping the Jones & Co. anniversary sale and stopped at the booth outside to have her 2-year-old English Mastiff blessed. “I just happened to walk into it today, but I’m very glad it’s available. You don’t see it a lot out here, but it’s such a positive thing for all the animals and keeps them blessed. I would definitely come back again.”
Kyllo estimated that he had blessed about a dozen animals at the church, and thanks to the big anniversary sale drawing in many customers with pets to Jones & Co., he likely blessed dozens more that day.
“Usually we have people bring in dogs and cats,” he said, though they have seen llamas, alpacas, pot-bellied pigs and Russian tortoises participate.
Michelle Jones, daughter of Jones & Co. Pets’ founder and owner, hadn’t heard of pet blessings before, but she was receptive to the idea because loving your pets is universal.
“I hadn’t heard of it before, but we are supportive of everyone,” she said. “We have brought in pet psychics before and other specialized pet services. People love their animals and they have different ways of how they care for them, but we support them all here.”
Jones had Sterling, her 11-year-old Schnauzer, blessed that day as well.
“People don’t always realize how important it is,” said Kyllo, of the blessing. “Sometimes people like to have their animals blessed if they are at the end of life. It’s our way of speaking well of these pets, who are more like companions and friends.”