by Ronda Ploughman

For four years, All Saints Hamilton has run a special blessing of animals on the last Sunday of September at Victoria Park.

Known as St. Francis Fair, we invite community partners involved in animal rescue and wellness to come and participate. In this way, we don’t just proclaim God’s blessing on our non-human friends and our relationships with them, but we educate and uphold stewardship for God’s creation, expressed in the front line work of our partners—most of whom are volunteers.

We have hosted Urban Wildlife Care, Ladybird Animal Sanctuary, HBSPCA, Hamilton Mounted Police and Greyhound Lovers of Hamilton Wentworth.

One of our committed participants is Ralphy’s Retreat, which provides rescue and a permanent home to abused and neglected farm animals. As a result of this, All Saints entered into a special contract with Value Village to receive warm, clean blankets and towels that could not be sold due to tears or holes. Not only does this keep the farm animals warm, it keeps the items out of landfills.

This year we welcomed Pantry Four Paws, a registered charity providing emergency pet food assistance to people in need, as well as animal rescue. Many of our most vulnerable population benefit profoundly from the relationship they have with their pets, and will give up their own meal in order to provide for their pets. Pantry Four Paws is there to help so that no one has to go hungry.

Blessing animals Hamilton
All creatures great and small bring their humans to St. Francis Fair in Hamilton for a blessing. Photo: Submitted by Rhonda Ploughman

We were pleased our event drew so many generous donations of food and money. Also it helped get word out that there is help for those in need, and for those who want to help there is a way to make a difference.

It wouldn’t be fair to leave out the greyhound folks, who are a whole movement in themselves. They help find homes for retired racers. Many become nursing home and library visitors. They’ve been with St. Francis Fair since the beginning when they offered to come and provide low cost microchips. I adopted my own greyhound through this group.

All Saints has a long history of commitment to social justice, advocacy, mental health and supporting those who are marginalized in our city.

Our mission to “Draw the Circle Wide” includes extending God’s compassion and justice to our non-human friends as well.

The Reverend Ronda Ploughman is Priest in Charge, All Saints Hamilton.