THANDIWE KONGUAVI – WCR
October 12, 2015
St. Francis of Assisi was surely smiling down on Edmonton’s friary grounds on his feast day this year, as the city’s Franciscan Friars celebrated their founder with a blessing of the animals.
Dog, cat and bird treats were on hand for the Blessing of Pets event. Twenty animals were blessed and sprinkled with Holy Water Oct.4.
“The dog is just a puppy, but she feels very peaceful around Father Manoj (Xalxo) and Father Regi (Mathew),” said Valerie Wilson, who lives next door to the friary. The Wilsons brought their tabby Mr. Bill and 2-year-old Catahoula dog Maggie to be blessed for the first time this year.
“(Maggie) loves running over here when she escapes, but it’s the blessing that’s very peaceful,” said Valerie “The animals are part of us and you feel, with the blessing, that they’re safer.”
Valerie, whose cat Mr. Bill was dying when she was rescued, has held St. Francis as her favourite saint since the time she first learned there were saints because she loves animals.
St. Francis, who lived in the 13th century, is the patron saint of animals and the environment.
BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Brother Michael Perras said Francis lived a simple life and in his choice to try and live his life based on the Gospel, he saw the gift of creation, and saw everything in creation as brother and sister, including animals.
“Everyone was beloved of God so that’s what he tried to emphasis – that everything was good in creation,” said Perras.
Part of the Franciscan traditions around the world on his feast day is pet blessings.
Brother Mathew said the blessing of the animals is an important part of the Franciscan commission for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC).
The prayer for kindness to animals recited at the event included praise and thanks to God for making animals as part of creation, and also asked for help for all people to be kind to animals.
“Bless this animal, and help us to use it in your service,” prayed Brother Mathew. “Father, we ask your blessing in the name of Jesus our Lord.”
Valerie said the community is hoping the friars will make the pet blessing an annual event. “Everybody was very excited,” she said. ”
“They’re the most wonderful men doing service here and we consider them deep friends,” she said about the friars.
The friars said they plan to hold the event again.
In Sherwood Park, Franciscan brothers also held a Blessing of the Pets event at the same time at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish.