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Special to The PREVIEW
In honor of the Feast of St. Francis, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church will hold its annual blessing of the animals following their 10 a.m. service (around 11:30 a.m.) at the church parking lot this Sunday, Sept. 29.
Parishioners and other members of the community are invited to bring pets to be blessed by Rev. Douglas Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s.
Though the types of pets to be blessed are not specified, Fr. Doug discourages snakes. “I’ll admit to having a bit of a phobia regarding snakes, though if they are contained and I can bless them without actually touching them, I might concede,” he said, half jokingly. “I have blessed all sorts of animals including dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, mice, horses, even goats. It is always a fun day.”
Pagosa Springs is a town that loves animals. It is not at all unusual for dogs to roam the halls of St. Patrick’s during the course of the week. There are dogs that attend the weekly quilters’ meeting, choir rehearsals, accompany office volunteers, and even occasionally come to work with the rector.
“Our little dog, Chica, always gets very excited whenever we drive into the church parking lot,” said Fr. Doug, who keeps special dog treats in his desk drawer for his canine visitors.
“One Sunday morning we had a stray dog that walked right up the center aisle of the church during a service. We all laughed as one of our parishioners escorted the animal into the narthex and phoned the nice folks at animal control to report our surprise guest. By the time they arrived to pick him up, we had probably three different families who would have been happy to adopt him.”
During the blessing service, family pets that have died over the past year will also be named and remembered.
“We consider our pets as a part of our families. We love them and they love us. It is always traumatic to say goodbye to our beloved friends and we say a prayer of thanksgiving for the many blessings and precious memories they have brought to our lives. We look forward to this special remembrance and celebration of these wonderful members of God’s creation,” said Fr. Doug.
St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. Sunday services will be held at 8 and 10 a.m., with the blessing of the animals at the church parking lot following at 11:30. Adult Sunday school is at 9 a.m. and children’s Sunday school at 10. Those attending the pet blessing are asked to keep dogs on leash and cats and other animals in pet carriers. All are welcome to attend.