KAMLOOPS — October 4th is celebrated as the Feast of St Francis of Assisi to commemorate the life and legacy of the Patron Saint of Animals and the Environment. Each year around that date, churches from a variety of different faiths celebrate a unique service in St Francis’ honour, meant to recognize the roles animals play in our lives.
One such service was held at McDonald Park on Saturday morning, which dawned bright and sunny, the perfect day for animal lovers to celebrate the Blessing of Animals.
“Animal blessings have been around for quite a long time in Christian churches and other faith communities,” Reverend Ken Gray, Dan of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Kamloops explained. “We’re in what we call the season of creation which lasts from September 1st to October 4th. The 4th of October is Francis Feast Day. We remember [St Francis of Assisi] as one who shared a special relationship with nature and with animals.”
The local blessing service was a cooperative effort between six Kamloops congregations, featuring clergy from each of those churches taking turns leading the proceedings. Kathy Kendall, who helped out with some the details of the ceremony, was there with her dog Murphy. She says the blessing is a chance for pet owners to recognize the special bond they share with their animals.
“Murphy is my third dog, and when I lost my second dog last year I was very surprised with how upset I was and how deeply that affected me,” Kendall told CFJC Today. “I thought it must be the case with so many people, that they have the special attachment with their pet. I thought for many people it would be a comfort to have this opportunity to involve their pet in their spiritual life.”
It was all dogs at Saturday’s blessing ceremony. There are no doubts dogs and their owners to share a very special relationship, which can be very different than relationships between people.
“Humans like taking care of animals. Animals bless them with attention, and respect, which sometimes in intra-human relationships is lacking or sometimes not always easily found," Gray said.
According to Rev. Gray, the clergy who hosted the Blessing of Animals hope to make the service an annual event.
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