All creatures have dignity and worth – Celebrating St. Francis Day

blessing of animal
Carleon Hardie and her daughter Maria brought their dog Bandit and pet rats Pippa and Clover to the Blessing of the Animals service at St. James Dundas. Photo: Sue Carson

by Sue Carson

Along with many other parishes around the diocese, St. James Dundas celebrates St. Francis Day with a Blessing of the Animals service. This has become so popular over the years and everyone looks forward to seeing our four-legged pets (and occasionally others) attending church.

St. Francis Day is the last day of the emerging Season of Creation, which runs from the beginning of September through October 4. The Greening Niagara committee encourages all parishes to celebrate in one way or another, and this year many parishes will do so on the nearest Sunday, October 1. For information about the Season of Creation check the diocesan Greening Niagara web page, or search the web for “season of creation.”

St. James parishioner Carleon Hardie and her family have been bringing their dog for seven years and love meeting all the pets that people have. “I feel that the pet blessing day helps build community. Pets are a part of our families and it’s nice to see the creatures people choose as companions in their lives.”

A few pet rats have even been blessed at St. James! She adds, “praying for them is something we all have done if they are hurting, lost, or going through stress in their lives, so taking the time to regularly bless them is important to me. We love pet blessing Sunday!”

The congregations of St. Michael’s and St. Gabriel’s Hamilton also celebrate each year with a pet blessing. They created a special St. Francis Day service they are willing to share —you can contact me or the parish for a copy. There are also resources available for loan from the Congregational Support and Development library at Synod Office.

If you are working on becoming a Green Accredited parish, St. Francis Day—with its environmental theme—would count towards achieving the worship requirement at the silver level.

With climate change comes an acceleration of habitat loss, and this is having a devastating impact upon many creatures of God’s creation.

St. Francis Day is a wonderful way to focus our environmental concerns, live into our baptismal promise to care for creation and teach our children that all creatures have dignity and worth.

Sue Carson is Chair of Greening Niagara and a member of St. James Dundas. Contact her about Greening Niagara or the Accreditation Program

NOTE: Send photos and a brief description of your Blessing of the Animals service to Editor Hollis Hiscock by October 25.