Old Metairie, La. (WGNO )--Every October 4th, the morning assembly at St. Francis Xavier School in Old Metairie looks like a petting zoo. Students and parents fill the schoolyard with dogs (mostly dogs), cats, lizards, gerbils, hermit crabs--just about every pet with fur, scales, paws or claws.
It's the annual Blessing of the Animals, held on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals.
"We gather together to let the children remember how special all of God's creation is," explains Deacon Jack Glover. "The children look to the animals as friends--as guides. When they talk to their animals, they realize they are talking to God as well."
Student Dylan Labeaud brought his guinea pig to the ceremony. "I think it's important to get it blessed because it's a part of God's creation," he says. Then Dylan adds, "And I think it's important to give pets a chance to go outside because he's not allowed to a lot."
Some of the animals were happy to be there. Others, not so much. But, there were no major disruptions (or major clean-ups).
Parent Sean Trimber stood with his dog, Trooper, a Louisiana Spotted Devil Dog. "It's important to show children [the pets] are part of the family and that God loves them, too--just as much as he love the children and everyone in the family," he says.