By Sally Neel
Special to The PREVIEW
Dogs, cats, horses, alpacas and a sundry of small caged animals will line up for their annual blessing from Fr. Doug Neel on Sunday, Oct. 6, 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. Neel will bless the animals at 11:45 a.m. in 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,” said Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s. “My family brought home a 9-year-old Yorkshire terrier a year ago. He has given his unconditional love to us ever since.”
Dogs are frequent visitors to the church and often come with their humans to visit Neel.
“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 tails in great anticipation. They are certainly a revered part of our parish family,” he said.
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 St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd.