Normally two separate events, this year the Blessing of the Animals and the Fifth Grade Bible Ceremony merged together as one for a small group of Ursuline Academy students.
The blessing usually occurs with live animals, the students bringing in their pets or pictures. This year, because of COVID-19 there were no animals allowed, and pictures were left behind so hands were free for bibles.
Cold and rainy weather pushed the event indoors, where red and white balloons and decorations of colorful fish and other underwater creatures were a stark contrast to the gray sky.
Samantha Verano, principal of the lower school, started off the Bible Ceremony with commentary on how COVID has changed student life before handing off the mic to one of the fifth graders for an opening prayer.
After a song, a reading about the life of St. Francis, and an intention prayer each by a different set of students, the bibles were blessed. A dozen students were then called up one-by-one to receive their own bible.
The pet blessing followed, with the student in charge asking his fellow classmates to “please hold up a picture of your pet,” before pausing, realizing “nobody has them,” initiating a chuckle from the parents in the audience.
A closing prayer and song wrapped up the event, with Verano remarking with a smile that St. Francis would clear up the rain, “so we can have afternoon recess.”