Blessed is best for St Gertrude’s pets

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St Gertrude’s in Smithfield was gate-crashed by a veritable menagerie of paws, claws and macaws on Sunday at the parish’s annual Mass and blessing of animals.

More than 200 Catholics turned out with their four-legged, finned and furry friends for the special event, including budgies, chicks, rabbits, dogs, cats and kittens, a parrot and four Siamese fighting fish.

Parish priest Fr Jarek Zan OSPPE celebrated the Mass and performed the blessing in a field behind the church, ably and affectionately guarded by his German Shepherd, Bella, who was well behaved throughout proceedings.

“She is always one of the most quiet dogs in this kind of gathering,” a clearly chuffed Fr Jarek told The Catholic Weekly.

“People are very dedicated to animals … It’s a great reminder of God’s creation, that we are a part of it and responsible for it”.

It’s the second year the parish has celebrated the special Mass, something Fr Jarek brought with him from his previous parish of Moss Vale in the Diocese of Wollongong; blessings in other parishes are also popular.

The most outlandish animal he has had to bless is a snake, which he is happy to do – “but it can’t come too close”.