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Alpaca helps kick off Holy Week at St. John’s in the Village

BY LIZ THOMSON | Father Graeme Napier of St. John’s in the Village brought in an alpaca named David to lead the Palm Sunday procession around the Village. The ceremony honored Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, and it marks the beginning of Holy Week.

In 2019, Father Graeme — a Scottish-Irish priest who was previously at Westminster Abbey — brought in a donkey named Caleb, but he later died of a heart attack. Alpacas, beasts of burden indigenous to the Americas, localized the ceremony.

The alpaca helped lead the way. (Photo by Liz Thomson)
(Photo by Liz Thomson)

David joined the blessing of the palms in the church’s St. Benedict’s Courtyard before leading a procession through the old horse walk and then left onto W. 11th Street. He seemed a little reluctant at first, requiring a gentle push in the rear to send him on his way. After a turn around the block, accompanied by a brass quartet and a choir singing “All Glory, Laud and Honor,” David led the processional up the aisle of the church and was then led out into the courtyard once more where he was served brunch. After a snack he made an unscheduled appearance during the singing of The Passion. His timing was perfect, and he walked in front of the altar before being led quietly outside once more.

(Photo by Liz Thomson)
Entering the church. (Photo by Liz Thomson)
David led the processional through the church. (Photo by Liz Thomson)

A massive black Great Dane, a service dog that is a regular at the church, looked on somewhat bemused but made no fuss.


  1. Karen Rempel Karen Rempel April 12, 2023

    How wonderfully whimsical!

  2. Kathy Slawinski Kathy Slawinski April 11, 2023

    Love David!

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