Fr. Roy Snipes is, by his own admission, a cowboy priest. Raised on a ranch in south Texas, he’s not into fancy stuff – he’d rather drink Lone Star beer than champagne and prefers boots to Gucci shoes.
And he loves dogs – especially ones he either rescued or were born to other rescue dogs he has owned.
(Be sure to click on each picture so you can see a larger version.)
Mass is no time to leave them in the kennel. They’re right there with him – part of the processional. Normally, Bendito (Spanish for blessing) would not be on a leash, but somebody decided to take Bendito away from the church last week – and Fr. Roy’s anguish was on the TV news as he rode around town posting “Lost Dog” photos. Some parish kids found Bendito and brought him home.
Puebla is the smallish grey and white mutt – and the photo is not an illusion. She only has three legs. Doesn’t seem to bother her any – she hobbles around just fine.
The dogs have free rein throughout the sanctuary. While one of the parishioners is reading the day’s Bible passage, Bendito examines the Nativity scene – much to Fr. Roy’s amusement. Traditionalists might not like dogs having such freedom, but the people of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Mission, Texas, not only don’t mind – they look forward to seeing the dogs each week. At the two services I attended, the sanctuary was filled to overflowing, with people outside listening to the Mass through the outside speaker system.
These are working dogs. They have two services to attend each Sunday morning, plus two more in the afternoon. It’s hard work dealing with all the people and the liturgy - sometimes a boy just needs to lie down and relax a little.
Everybody needs to eat. Newly pulled out her favorite bone and did a little gnawing while The Boss consecrated the bread and wine. I wonder if she thought to share her bone with the Baby Jesus, who lies in the manger right behind her.
While Newly munches in front of the altar, Bendito is worn out and needs a nap as his master elevates the chalice declaring that it holds the blood of Christ.
And the kids – oh, the kids love the dogs. As Fr. Roy greets worshipers outside the church after Mass, Chunkly , the black Lab, patiently endures the attentions of a young girl who just can’t seem to leave him alone.
And when the services were over, Fr. Roy looked at the photographer and said “How about a beer?”
I’m going to take him up on that offer –I had to leave when he went back to work for a baptism.
I wonder if the dogs get to lap up some Lone Star from a saucer.