When the Rev. Tom Brown performs a blessing, it is normally received with a gracious thank you.

On Sunday, appreciation came in the form of a sloppy lick.

The culprits: about 20 dogs and cats that were gathered in the St. Thomas Catholic Church parking lot, 203 W. Washington St., to receive their annual pet blessing.

“I enjoy pets,” said Brown, who has a 5-year-old border collie, Dakota, that also took part in the blessing. “Even farm animals. It’s a lot of fun.”

Brown, pastor of St. Thomas and St. Elizabeth churches, has been conducting pet blessings every fall in Corry for the past nine years.

The ceremony is held in honor of St. Francis of the Assisi, known as the patron saint of animals and the environment.

St. Francis, who was born in Italy, was a Catholic deacon and the founder of the Franciscans.

It is customary for Catholic churches to hold ceremonies honoring animals around his feast day, Oct. 4.

“St. Francis had a devout love for the world and nature,” Brown said. “He came to realize that humans are such a small part of what God has accomplished. He became so connected to the creation of the world.”

This year’s pet blessing crowd was made up of dogs and cats, but prior years have also seen horses, hamsters, a chinchilla and various birds.

“We’ve had a lot of variety over the years,” Brown said.

Sunday’s ceremony began with an brief discussion about St. Francis, which was followed by prayers and Scripture readings.

Holy water was then sprinkled on each pet, who also received a small beefy treat.

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