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By Sally Neel
Special to The PREVIEW
Dogs, cats, horses and a sundry of small caged animals will line up for their annual blessing from Fr. Doug Neel this Sunday at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in honor of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
This has become a favorite day in the life of the parish, when pets of all kinds are honored, blessed and remembered. Father Doug will bless the animals at noon at the church parking lot following the 10 a.m. Sunday service.
“The blessing of the animals is very special service, especially meaningful for those of us who know the precious joys pets can bring to our lives,” says Fr. Doug, rector of St. Patrick’s. “My family brought home a sweet little dog from the Humane Society two years ago who we named ‘Chica.’ She has given her unconditional love to us ever since,” he said.
Dogs are frequent visitors to the church and often come with their humans to visit Fr. Doug. “I keep dog treats in my desk drawer in my office for our special canine visitors. They know just where I keep them and come wagging their tales in great anticipation. They are certainly a revered part of our parish family!”
This annual event honors the 13th century Roman Catholic Saint, St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, whose feast day is officially celebrated Oct. 4. St. Francis preached about man’s responsibility to protect nature and to be good stewards of God’s creation. He had a legendary ability to communicate with animals and a special affinity towards them.
The public is invited to bring pets to the church parking lot to receive a blessing at this annual service this Sunday, following the regular 10 a.m. service. St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd.