Blessed are the pets

Goonellabahs Heidi Evans, 16, had her cat Charlie blessed at last years Blessing of the Pets, and although the green frog Heidis holding will remain in the garden on the day, all creatures great and small are welcome for the annual Blessing of the Pets service this Sunday, October 8, at St Andrews Anglican Church in Lismore.

The service is a tribute to the teachings of St Francis of Assisi, the 13th century saint who had a special relationship, not just with God and people, but with birds and animals.

St Francis of Assisi taught us much about caring for ourselves, each other and the natural world in which we live, said Reverend Vivian Hoskins. But the Blessing of the Pets is also a relaxed way to focus on some more serious issues, such as the important emotional role pets play in peoples lives, and that the church can be bright, relevant and meaningful to people of all ages. Also, its a chance to remind ourselves that the world around us and its inhabitants are valuable and we have a responsibility to care for it and for them.

Reverend Hoskins has blessed his fair share of pets since the special St Francis Day service started back in 1998, yet despite the potential for mayhem, he said the worse thing that had ever happened was being licked to death by a bull terrier last year.

However, there are house rules, added Reverend Hoskins. Dogs and their handlers will be in one part of the church, and cats and their owners will be located well away from them. Birds, rats, mice and crawling things should be caged, boxed or at least well-trained. Large animals must be tethered outside and cane toads are banned!

This year the church is encouraging people to bring larger animals such as horses, cows, donkeys and goats. The Blessing of the Pets begins at 9.30am.

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