Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals) is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission – to be of service to them whenever they require it. If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.

                                              Saint Francis of Assisi

To honour St Francis of Assisi, whose feast day is celebrated on October 4th each year, the parish assembly organised a blessing of all pets/animals and their owners in the church car park on Saturday, 6th October at 3pm.

We were blessed with a beautiful warm and sunny day; we can be forgiven to think St Francis, who loved all nature with a passion, had some influence on the weather! Just after 2.45pm parishioners began congregating with their pets, mainly dogs, though we did have guinea pigs, gerbils and one girl brought a photo of  her pet fish. All then assembled in the car park. It was a memorable sight to behold. A table held a statue of St Francis, kindly lent to us, for the occasion, by the Poor Claire Sisters, College Road, also, figures of animals, a floral display and a lighted candle graced the table.

Just after 3pm Fr John began the ceremony with the above quotation from St Francis. John, a parishioner, read from the Book of Genesis on the creation of the world, and five children read the Prayer of the Faithful in which we asked God’s blessing on our furry, and not so furry, friends. Fr John then prayed a blessing over all pets and their owners, and blessed them with holy water.

For single householders, a pet can be a true companion. Many people arrive home from work to find a furry friend overjoyed at their return. Many a elderly person has a lap filled with a purring fellow creature. Children, who are fortunate to have pets, learn to love, look after and care for them, and in doing so they learn how to be a little less selfish.

The bond between person and pet is like no other relationship, because the communication between fellow creatures is at its most basic. Eye-to-eye, a man and his dog, or a woman and her cat, are two creatures of love.

No wonder people enjoy the opportunity to take their animal companions to church for a special blessing. Church is the place where the bond of creation is celebrated.

Every creature is important, because they have been created by God. The love we give to a pet, and receive from a pet, can draw us more deeply into the larger circle of life, into the wonder of our common relationship to our Creator.

Fr John promises that this blessing will be an annual event and it is hoped that more and more parishioners will be prompted to bring their pets/animals to this ceremony. 

Prayer for Pets:  Almighty and everlasting God, Creator of all things and giver of all life, let your blessing be upon all these animals. May our relationships with them mirror your love, and our care for them be an example of your bountiful mercy. Grant the animals health and peace. Strengthen us to love and care for them as we strive to imitate the love of Jesus Christ our Lord and God’s servant Francis. Amen.