ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene animals of many breeds all congregated at Saint John’s Episcopal School Tuesday morning to be blessed. It’s an annual tradition every October 4, but the overload of furry, cuteness was out of the ordinary at this year’s blessing.

“The blessing of the animals is a tradition that St. John’s does annually. It is one of the favorite traditions of our students,” said Rebecca McMillon, Head of St. John’s Episcopal School.

As animals sporting all different coats and colors lined up, Rector David Romanik with the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest gave a brief history on why animals are blessed:

“This is a wonderful service and it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to remember St. Francis, who loved everyone around him and believed that he had a responsibility to show God’s unconditional love to all people,” explained Rector Romanik. “And one of the ways he wanted to manifest it was caring for those who could not care for themselves, and that’s why he loved animals as much as he did.”

McMillon continued on that same thought process, “It is important for us to teach our children about taking care of God’s creatures and that’s what we’re doing today. We’re acknowledging that is our responsibility to take care of our pets and the creatures that God has created for us.”

During the blessing ceremony, Rector Romanik prayed over the congregation of pets; “We pray that You would continue to bless us with Your grace.”

Live animals were a given Tuesday morning, but even some plush animals were in attendance.

“Do you love your stuffed animals,” asked Deacon Karen Boyd with the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest.

With so many gathered, McMillon called the group ‘lucky’ as some parents in attendance were once students.

“To have that second and third generation coming back, to have their [pet] blessed with their children, is a unique experience and we’re blessed by our alumni and our parents,” McMillon added.

With 70 years of teachings in Abilene, St. John’s said the tradition won’t end any time soon.

The Abilene Zoo will also be blessing its animals at 5:30 Wednesday evening, where the public is invited to see. But animals are not allowed at the zoo.

If that cat of yours has been a little unruly, you can still get him blessed at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, October 9 at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest, located at 602 Meander Street.