The first two weekends in October have been traditionally the time when Episcopal parishes hold their annual "Blessing of the Animals" as a particular way of marking the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Generally that involves blessing people and their pets and praying for many happy years together. But what sort of support does the Church have for people who are grieving the loss of their animal companions?
Emily Mellot, the Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Lombard IL, decided to see what she could do to answer that question:
"When her cat of 14 years, Bronwyn, died last spring, Mellott was comforted by the 'very supportive' staff at Lombard Veterinary Hospital.
[...]'Every church I've ever been involved with offered a regular pet blessing, but when a pet dies, the grief is very real and it's not something we know what to do with in our culture or in our churches,' said Mellott, pastor at Calvary Episcopal Church in Lombard.
[...]So she decided to partner with the veterinary hospital on a Service of Thanksgiving for the Lives of our Pets. The service, to commemorate pets that have died and bless those that are still playing catch or curling up on their owner's laps, is at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, on the grounds of the hospital, 244 E. St. Charles Road.
Bereaved pet owners may bring a photo, favorite toy or the ashes of their pet to the short, family-friendly service. Afterward, they'll have an opportunity to pray with one of the three participating clergy members."
And of course anyone is also invited to bring along the pets for a blessing as well.
Are your congregations marking St. Francis' day in any special way this year?