Pet owners throng church's pet blessing ceremony
They throng Church of St Mary of the Angels' annual pet blessing ceremony
Amid the meowing of skittish cats and the barking of restless dogs, she stood patiently, listening for her turn.
Only after a priest had announced that it was time to bless "rabbits, hamsters and the little furry friends" did Ms Andrea Ang squeeze past a wall of pet owners to get to the small stage.
But when she raised her hands to receive the droplets of holy water, there was no cuddly creature in her arms.
Instead, her open palms held only a clear plastic bag with five feathers.
Ms Ang was among a congregation of pet owners at the Church of St Mary of the Angels' pet blessing ceremony yesterday afternoon.
The shy, bespectacled Ms Ang, 24, told The New Paper: "I have five pet birds. One of them has a uterus infection."
Ms Ang had travelled from her home in Pasir Ris to the church in Bukit Batok.
She pointed at a white feather from her 13-year-old cockatiel named Kokay. A cockatiel closely resembles a cockatoo. Kokay has been in a pet hospital for the past two weeks.
(Above) Ms Andrea Ang and her five feathers, one from each of her pet birds. TNP PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF
The other four feathers, wet after being blessed,were from her pet macaw and parakeets.
"I hope Kokay recovers soon," said Ms Ang, who declined to be photographed.
"But I'm also here to get blessings for my paralysed parakeet, which was rescued from the wild. Somebody found the parakeet on the floor and gave it to me."
More than 200 people and their pets attended the pet blessing ceremony, which was held under a tent outside the Roman Catholic church.
The ceremony, which lasted about an hour, started at 3.30pm.
The annual ceremony began more than 20 years ago.
It follows the Franciscan tradition, which teaches that all animals are sacred, Father Clifford Augustine, the parish priest, told TNP.
Father Augustine said: "These (blessings) are not meant to be blessings for a cure when animals are sick.
"But today is a celebration of God's love for us. And one of the greatest gifts God has given us is his creation - the animals."
Although most went with their pet dogs - from small poodles to majestic Huskies - there were also rabbits, birds and cats.
Ms Janice Chan carries her 18-year-old cat, Porcini. TNP PHOTO: CHOO CHWEE HUA
The blessings began with smaller animals followed by the larger dogs.
A few priests made their rounds, sprinkling holy water.
Ms Janice Chan, a first-timer at the event, had with her her 18-year-old female cat Porcini (a type of mushroom used in Italian cuisine).
Said Ms Chan, who was carrying the large, short-haired cat: "Look at her coat, doesn't it remind you of Italian mushrooms?
"I came here because the church I attend doesn't have such a service. I hope Porcini remains a healthy cat."
Also at the ceremony were makeshift stalls offering pet accessories and cat adoption services.
He's even blessed an earthworm
Over the years, Father Clifford Augustine, the parish priest of Church of St Mary of the Angels, has blessed creatures both big and small, furry and feathery.
These include hamsters, rabbits, cats, dogs, turtles, terrapins and birds.
But the jovial priest was stumped for a moment when he was asked, "What is the strangest pet you've blessed?"
The 50-year-old then burst into laughter and said: "I wasn't going to say earthworm, but yes, I have blessed an earthworm.
"It was a pet. But I have not seen that person (who had brought the earthworm) any more."
And if you assumed it was a child who had presented Father Augustine with that single earthworm, you would be wrong. The owner was an adult.
Added Father Augustine: "To each his own. He (the man with the earthworm) saw a bigger picture in Creation.
"Even an earthworm, which is good for our ecology, needs to be treasured by the human race."