The city’s Tenderloin neighborhood was alive with the spirit and memory of St. Francis of Assisi today on his Oct. 4 feast day with the annual Blessing of the Animals at St. Boniface Church.
Three Franciscan friars, Brother Jimmy Kernan, OFM, Brother Martín Sanabria, OFM, and BrotherJuan Guerrero OFM, stood at the gated entry to the church on Golden Gate Avenue with a bowl of holy water and green branches for the blessing. Two large dog bowls on the sidewalk flanked each side of the church’s iron gates.
At St. Boniface, located in one of the poorest sections of the city, pet owners – mostly of dogs – strode up purposely to the friars to have their faithful companions blessed. Several asked for a blessing for themselves afterward.
Seventy-one years ago today Franciscan Friar Father Alfred Boeddeker had a vision of uniting vulnerable populations in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. He opened the doors of St. Anthony’s Dining Room on Oct. 4, 1950.
As part of the 71st anniversary celebration, a new statue of St. Anthony was blessed for placement next to a statue of St. Francis in the St. Anthony dining room. Clients who came for a meal sat outside in the closed block of Golden Gate Avenue between Leavenworth and Jones Streets to enjoy music while students of nearby De Marillac Academy joined in the festive afternoon.