Episcopal church blesses animals

Published 11:30 am Monday, October 8, 2012

The Rev. June Johnson, interim rector of St. John's Episcopal Church, gives a blessing to "Sophie," who is being held by Gloria Reeves, at Sunday's "Blessing of the Animals." Sophie is owned by Sarah Burch.|Justin Schuver

More than 20 pet owners and their furry friends experienced a special sign of faith Sunday afternoon, as St. John’s Episcopal Church in Bainbridge held its annual “Blessing of the Animals” ceremony.

The custom is observed in early October each year by many Catholic and Episcopal churches, in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi, who is considered the patron saint of animals and whose feast day is Oct. 4.

The Rev. June Johnson, interim rector at the church, led the ceremony by opening with Psalm 104:24, which says, “How many are your works, O God! In wisdom you made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.”

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Johnson also focused on the special gift that God has given to mankind, to hold dominion over the animals and to treat them with respect.

After several Scripture readings concerning animals, Johnson met with each pet owner and blessed their pets one by one. She laid her hand on each dog, cat, and even a rabbit, asking God to bless and keep them safe.

At the end of the ceremony, Johnson also asked for God to bless the pet owners.
“I ask that you [God] will give them patience and wisdom, and allow us to have fun with our furry friends,” she said, in prayer. “Bless us as you allow these animals to show their love for us, as an earthly sign of your own love for your people.”

Also during the ceremony, Johnson read a special “litany for the companions we have lost,” remembering the pets who died in the past year.

“Grant us the wisdom to recognize the blessing of having had these friends with us in our family,” she said.