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Island churches seek to spread the blessings of pet ownership

St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church will hold its annual Blessing of the Animals Service Sunday
Janet MacKenzie and her wire fox terrier, Mira, were among the attendees during last year’s Blessing of Animals service held at St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church of Canada. The church is holding the annual Sunday, Sept. 30. Submitted.

Creatures great and small will join their human owners Sunday as a Saanich church continues a time-honoured tradition of blessing animals.

St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church will hold its annual Blessing of the Animals Service on Sunday, Sept. 30, starting at 2:30 p.m.

The service scheduled to last 30 minutes recognizes the contributions of animals to the emotional and spiritual well-being of humans.

RELATED: Blessings bestowed on all creatures great and small

“Pets, in a way, remind us of God,” said Reverend Daniel Fournier during his sermon last year. “Why do they remind us of God? Because pretty much no matter what, they are so loving, and they continue to love.”

Saint Francis of Assisi, one of Christendoms most important and influential figures thanks to his teachings around poverty and ecological conservation, is the inspiration behind the service.

Considered the patron saint of animals, stories accord St. Francis a special relationship with animals, which hold a special place in Christian teachings, as the Bible describes Jesus as the Lamb of God and several biblical stories use animals to make large points about the treatment of the natural environment and the vulnerable.

As for St. Francis, the medieval monk considered animals fellow Christians and his official biography bursts with stories that show him preaching to animals of various kinds including birds. According to one account, the founder of the Franciscan order among other religious orders even managed to tame a wolf, who had been terrorizing the residents of Gubbio and their livestock.

RELATED: Saanich Peninsula faithful bless their furry friends

While it would be highly unusual for an example of a canis lupus to walk the pews Sunday, the event usually draws a wide variety of animals, from reptiles (which do not exactly enjoy the best reputation in the Bible) to mammals, mainly cats and dogs. Last year, a toddler brought his plush toy, Lammy.

Other Island churches, whether they be Anglican or Catholic, have also offered similar services. Three years ago, Edmund, a llama from Rose-N-Sun Farm in Saanich, made its way into St. George’s Anglican Church during its Blessing of the Animals service.

While these services have an undeniable public relations effect, it is hard to deny that they create a unique sense of fellowship.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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