The Blessing of Animals
World Animal Day is a day of action recognised worldwide for animal rights as well as welfare. The mission of this day is to raise the status of animals and improve welfare standards worldwide. It is celebrated on 4 October, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi who is recognised as the animals’ patron saint.
World Animal Day is today observed by animal-lovers of all beliefs, nationalities and backgrounds. Animal blessings are held in churches, synagogues, and by independent Animal Chaplains in parks and fields. Animal rescue shelters hold fundraising events and open days; wildlife groups and schools organize information displays and projects and people donate to animal charities or pledge to sponsor a shelter animal.
Since 2002, on the Saturday closest to the feast of St. Francis, our own local St. Francis (Fr. Dave Lancini) has been blessing the animals in Anderson Park. Currently our congregation consists mainly of dogs, but in earlier year we have welcomed horses, lizards, turtles, cats, birds and on one occasion a pet carpet snake actually shed his skin during the service. The ashes of special pets have been scattered under the rain tree and people also remember those pets now gone who have played a special part in their lives.
Everyone is welcome, furred, winged, two-footed, four-footed and we look forward each year to welcoming the hospital dogs. It is amazing how the chaos quietens immediately the service begins and everyone behaves very well, even the owners.
Our liturgy usually incorporates a reminder that we all inter-related in creation and that we share a common responsibility for the well-being of one another, including our animals and environment.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress may be judged
by the way its animals are treated ~ Mahatma Gandhi ~