• 45°

Church sets animal blessing service

Creatures great and small will gather with their owners at Christ Episcopal Church 3 p.

Friday, October 08, 1999

Creatures great and small will gather with their owners at Christ Episcopal Church 3 p.m. Saturday for a "Blessing of the Animals" and ice cream social.

The animal blessing will be held in the church’s Memorial Gardens, which are located on South Fifth Street and Park Avenue, as a Thanksgiving for Creation in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis, who loved all of God’s creatures, is traditionally honored Oct. 4, the Rev. Robert Thomas said.

"Usually when you have a blessing of the animals, you do it close to St. Francis’ Day because he was so fond of animals," Thomas said.

St. Francis liked animals so well that he called them his "brothers and sisters," according to church literature.

He would preach to the animals about God and how He saved them in Noah’s Ark many years ago, the literature stated.

And why shouldn’t animals learn how to be thankful to God? After all, they are God’s creatures, as well, Thomas said.

"Why not bless the animals," he said. "The ceremony is simply a recognizing of pets and a hoping that they have a long life, and that they are a joy to their owners."

The service will begin Saturday with the hymn "All Things Bright and Beautiful," sung by the children of the Sunday School.

Following the hymn will be the story of Noah, who at age 600 built an ark before a flood came on the Earth and saved his family and two animals of every kind.

Then, the "Blessing of the Animals" will begin, with the Rev. Thomas officiating.

Everyone may bring a pet or a picture of a beloved pet to the service for blessing.

And Thomas will try to approach every animal to give him or her a personal blessing.

"I’ll try to go up to each individual pet, but some I’m rather leery of," he said.

Expected animals at the service include dogs, cats, a lizard and a few hamsters. Any other animals also are welcome, Thomas said.

"Anybody can bring a pet," he said.

The service will conclude with the final verses of "All Things Bright and Beautiful."

Immediately following the event will be an ice cream social in the parking lot across from the church.

"The ice cream social is sort of an extra treat for the church-going kids, and anyone else who wants to come," Thomas said.

This is not the first time, the Christ Episcopal Church has offered an animal blessing. However, the last one was done many years ago, Thomas said.

This Saturday’s blessing is being offered because of requests made by the church’s Sunday School class members, he said.