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Churches bless for St. Francis

Posted: October 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.

The blessing, conducted by Bek, is meant to symbolize an appreciation of the animals.

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Saint Francis of Assisi was a Catholic monk who lived during the 13th century and was a lover of nature and animals.

This past Sunday, churches around Santa Clarita and across the nation honored his feast day Oct. 4 by conducting a blessing of the animals ceremonies.

St. Francis not only was known for his delight in nature, but his life was surrounded by legends of how he tamed wild wolves and spoke with birds, which is why his feast day calls Christians to honor animals of all kinds.

Every kind of animal
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Newhall held its service outside in the courtyard of the church with more than 50 people in attendance with their pets. A few children brought stuffed animals to be blessed, as well.

“Children that love and sacrifice for these animals learn to live in that faith like St. Francis,” the Rev. Susan Bek said.

During the service, congregants sang and Bek took time to bless each pet personally with holy water and asked God to care for them and bless their owners. She even offered blessings for animals that were unable to travel to the service and to remember ones that had passed.

Bek strives to draw connections between the legends of the past and the applications they have on us today. She asks everyone to contemplate how the stories reflect in their own lives and how they can live those principles of love and compassion.

Precious pets
Open Door Ministries held its blessing of the animals service at El Camino Pines Bible Camp in the woods of Frazier Park.
The service not only offered open space for the animals, but a true connection with nature.

Pastor Christine Buma explained how the service is an opportunity to give thanks for nonhuman creatures that we care for. Most pets in attendance were dogs and caged birds, although she has blessed turtles in the past.

“It is a reminder of how precious they are,” Buma said. “They are God’s creatures and need our care.”

At the service, they sang joyful “camp” type songs, Buma read “The Runaway Bunny,” and they even prayed for pets that are abused or scheduled to be euthanized.

Trinity Episcopal Church held its service at the McCord Ranch in Bardsdale, which also is a wildlife preservation. the Rev. Larry Brown blessed not only dogs, but also chickens and horses.

“St. Francis looked at all creation as holy,” Brown said. “It’s a good thing to just sit down and be thankful for the blessings in our lives and our pets and animals.”

All churches honored St. Francis through their services by maintaining a joyful environment and expressing thankfulness for the animals in their lives, including the ones that have touched their lives in the past.

“When you work to do something wonderful and sacrifice for someone else, even an animal, it is a blessing to you,” Bek said. “We are all called to do something wonderful in the world.”

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