Pets focus of church services this week

Published 10:21 am Monday, October 3, 2011

Paying tribute to God’s creation and the role animals play in our lives will be the focus of two services this week in honor of the Feast of St. Francis.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday St. Ann’s Church in Chesapeake will have a pet blessing in the sanctuary of the church. This is the fifth year for the blessing and will be on the actual feast day.

“The meaning of this comes out of the Garden of Eden story where man is the pinnacle of creation, but still always a part and recognizing God in all things,” said the Rev. Charles Moran, pastor of St. Ann. “It is that God keeps everything in existence and it is because of the affection we have for God’s creation that we seek God’s blessing.”

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Most of the pets brought to St. Ann’s in the past have been garden variety dogs and cats. But last year one young parishioner brought her pet soft shell crab.

The service will begin with a short Mass followed by the blessing when Moran goes out into the nave to bless each animal, which are allowed in the sanctuary.

“I see them as God’s creation and they belong in a sacred place,” Moran said.

On Saturday, at 3 p.m. Christ Episcopal Church in Ironton will have a pet blessing in the garden beside the church on Fifth Street and Park Avenue.

“The service begins with recognizing the value of creation and the importance of St. Francis, who was deeply connected to all creation,” the Rev. Sallie Schisler of Christ Church said.

Then there will be a short Scripture reading and a responsive reading of a Psalm with those in attendance before the actual pet blessing.

“Each animal can be blessed whether it is in a cage or on a leash,” Schisler said. “It is up to the owner. We do a responsive reading of the prayer of St. Francis. The service ends with a blessing of St. Clare, who is the saint most closely identified with St. Francis.”

The service at Christ Church is also open to those who are not pet owners.

“Those who don’t have a pet but would like to take a little time to be outside and appreciate the wonder of creation, a time to pause and remember how extravagant and magnificent creation is,” Schisler said.