PEORIA HEIGHTS, Ill. (WMBD) — For Catholics, today it is feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology.

One local school invited parish members and students to bring their furry friends to help celebrate.

St. Thomas Catholic School in Peoria Heights held its annual “Blessing of the Animals” in their back parking lot.

Parents bring the animals from home and then take them home after the blessing is over.

Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and even owls got a chance to be blessed.

“Pets are such an important of the life of a lot of families and so it’s good to be able to bring a blessing to them, but especially for St. Francis of Assisi. We want him to be celebrated as an example not just for the pets, but also to really encourage all of children to grow in holiness, to follow that religious example of St. Francis,” said Monsignor Jason Gray.

Monsignor Gray says that some students will bring stuffed animals or pictures of their pets that they couldn’t bring.