On October 19, 2023, Converse University’s Office of Spiritual Life hosted its second annual Blessing of the Animals on the Montgomery patio outside The Quad.
Members of the Converse community were invited to submit photos of their pets, which were displayed in Montgomery, and many brought their pets to campus the day of the event to participate in this heartwarming opportunity.
Animals are widely recognized for their positive effects on physical and psychological health. It is well-documented that pets positively contribute to our health and well-being, which is a foundational priority at Converse.
Reverend Eliza Smith DeBevoise has spearheaded the Blessing of the Animals event for two years.
She explained that a church she worked at in Atlanta had a similar yearly event. “We blessed everything from hamsters to fish to dogs and cats,” she described. After coming to Converse and talking to colleagues about the event, she decided to start the morale-boosting tradition at Converse.
“It is one of the events that gets the most attention from all facets of our campus community,” Reverend Smith DeBevoise said.
Chloe Cleland ’25 said she loved seeing the variety of pet pictures in Montgomery from all over the country and world. Cleland said, “This event is both a fun excuse to share photos of our animals, as well as a reminder of our homes and everyone we love.”
With many events from the Office of Spiritual Life being student-focused, this event also sees many faculty and staff attendees.
Assistant Dean of Career Development Tori McLean Good brought her pup Gus, whose gentle, wet-nose nudges were welcomed by all who attended, especially students who were homesick for their pets.
McLean Good said, “It was a great event that brought folks of all walks of life and belief together to bond over something we can all appreciate: adorable pets.” She praised Reverend Eliza Smith DeBevoise and her community of leaders for consistently welcoming everyone from all faith backgrounds to Spiritual Life events. “Gus and I had a great time at the event,” McLean Good said. “He appreciated all the cuddles from students, and I believe the students enjoyed his presence, too!”
Gus was a major fan of the dog-friendly treats lovingly baked by cat mom Anna French, Director of Advancement Services. French, an avid baker, makes these salt and sugar-free dog treats for family and friends.
Abeeha Sajid ’25 (Nisbet Honors; Converse College for Women) said she enjoys seeing all the Converse pets and their cute faces. She said, “It brings the campus community together in a fun and engaging way because everyone from students to faculty and staff submits their pet to be blessed!”
Event attendees enjoyed treats, bandanas for their pets and a short blessing. For those whose pets could not attend or have passed away, their photos were featured in Montgomery, and a special virtual blessing was offered in their honor or memory.