It’s the season: Animals blessed at The Grotto

INCLUDES VIDEO VIGNETTE | Here’s why people, from all over outer East Portland, arrived at The Grotto for this annual special outdoor service …

Located in the Sumner neighborhood, just west of Parkrose, The Grotto greets people bringing their pets for this year’s Blessing of the Animals.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

With few events held in the last year and a half, indoors or out, due to the continuing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, it was refreshing and uplifting for all who came to attend the 38th Annual Blessing of the Animals at The Grotto on the afternoon of October 3.

Many guests, and their beloved pets, arrived before the 3 p.m. event got underway at The Grotto Plaza.

Speaking with the guests before the service, we found Father Vidal Martinez, The Grotto’s Rector.

According to The Grotto’s Rector, Father Vidal Martinez, the annual ceremony began in 1984, in recognition of the joy that animals bring to human lives. “Every year since, we have gathered, with our pets, for a blessing,” he told East Portland News before the service began.

“This is an ecumenical prayer service for people and their pets, here at the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, a Roman Catholic ministry of the Servite Friars – Order of Friar Servants of Mary,” Fr. Martinez explained.

Cathy Rutledge holds the family pooch, Finley, while she and Dale Rutledge await the start of this year’s Blessing of the Animals.

For some time, The Grotto had held the event in the summer, typically during the month of July.

“However, we decided to hold this service in October, so it would be related to the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, who we know as the Patron Saint of all of creation, especially of all God’s creatures,” Fr. Martinez remarked. “We seek St. Francis’ intercession today, on behalf of all of the pets that are brought here, and pets of all time.”

To get an idea of what people attending The Blessing of the Animals service at The Grotto experienced that day,

As more people, and their pets, arrived – including dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and ferrets – he continued, “It’s a great joy and a great blessing for animals, especially those which are pets in our homes, and are part of our family. Our pets are so much a part of who we are.

“We take this opportunity to all praise and glorify God for all of his creation, as manifest here at The Grotto in so many different ways – because this is a place of prayer, serenity, and contemplation of the presence of God in nature, and prayerful experiences such as were having this afternoon,” continued Fr. Martinez.

Ready for the blessing are Nikki Killian-Schafbuch and “Miss Peaches Piddlesworth”, who is a “golden spaniel”.

It’s a simple service, Fr. Martinez told us, which begins with music and responsive readings. Then, attendees are invited to bring their pets up for the blessing.

“We’re very happy to provide this for the community; people of all faiths are invited to this service – and, some who come here today, who have no faith, hopefully may find faith and comfort in God here,” Fr. Martinez reflected.

The Grotto’s Father Vidal Martinez blesses another beloved pet, during this annual service.

To learn more about The Grotto – it’s located just off NE Sandy Boulevard, two blocks east of 82nd Avenue of Roses – see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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