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St. Mark’s sets pet blessing

GENEVA – At least 200 animals are expected next month when St. Mark’s Episcopal Church hosts its sixth annual Blessing of the Animals.

The blessing is set for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at the old Courthouse, 100 S. Third St., Geneva.

If this year is anything like last year, all kinds of pets – and their owners’ families – will attend, said parishioner Robert Langeness, who, with his wife, Joyce, volunteered to set up the event for the church.

“We have had dogs and cats, lizards and snakes, birds – you name it, we’ve had it,” Langeness said. “Last year, we even had a horse. This year, we might have two horses.”

After a harpist provides music, the Rev. Mark Tusken will give a short homily, and the animals and their owners will form two lines to receive blessings from Tusken and the Rev. Claudia Nalven.

“Each animal gets a separate, individual blessing,” Langeness said.

“They will get personalized messages for whatever the person is asking on behalf of the animal. It is not a generic blessing. The animal could be having health problems.”

You’d think with all those animals, there would be some barking or biting, but Langeness said participants are aware they must keep cats in their carry cages and dogs leashed.

“There’s no friction or problems, no aggressive animals,” Langeness said. “We had one man who had both his dogs groomed and put little outfits on them for the blessings.”

The pets also will get a toy and an animal cookie, donated by Wet Nose in Geneva and HealthyPets in Aurora.

“It is a rewarding opportunity for animal lovers,” Langeness said.

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