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Pet blessing to honor animals, creation

It is an opportunity to show appreciation for the animals and all they do in our lives, from that of companion to that of worker whether in the fields or with the handicapped. That’s the motivation behind the second annual Blessing of the Animals at Christ Episcopal Church.

Last year was the inaugural for the service that encourages pet owners to bring their animals to the garden by Christ Church on the corner of Fifth Street and Park Avenue to receive a blessing.

“Some people ask why bless an animal. It doesn’t have a soul,” the Rev. Sallie Schisler, vicar of Christ Church, said.

“We bless them because they are part of God’s creation and they are such a blessing to the people who own them. Either they are pets or the ones who do work for us. It is all about our respect and honor of creation.”

The date for the blessing is 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, and is chosen to coincide with the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, which is Oct. 4.

Born Giovanni Francesco Bernardone, St. Francis was the son of a rich merchant, who underwent a spiritual transformation after a serious illness.

Today he is known as the patron saint of animals, birds and the environment because of the stories that abound about his love for animals. Statues of him often decorate private and public gardens because of his association with nature.

At last fall’s blessing about a dozen showed up with their dogs and cats, including a sheriff’s deputy, for the half-hour service that featured lessons from Scripture, a homily and singing.

“We had people who were not members,” Schisler said. “And we were also able to offer a blessing to the county’s drug dog because that dog works hard for the county. A blessing is something that we both give and receive and I think it means that we recognize the creative spirit of God in one another. … recognizing and honoring and thanking them for whatever that gift is.”

Animals are welcome in either cages or on leashes. The service is open to the community.