Holy cats and dogs! Austin church to bless pets

Published 10:57 am Friday, September 23, 2011

It may be safe to say no pets in Austin have ever gone to church. Either way, they’ll get their chances this Sunday.

Austin Women Ministers will hold a blessing for the animals at 1 p.m. outside of First Congregational Church, in its parking lot. The spot is ideal, as the parking lot and large lawn can accommodate many animals. The Rev. Elizabeth Endicott of First Congregational is unaware of any animal blessings that have taken place in Austin, or even Rochester, in the past years. She and the Austin Women Ministers figured it was time.

“Part of it is to remember that we have the responsibility to be loving and caring for those who rely upon us for their lives,” she said.

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Though it may appear strange to some this Sunday, it is the time of the year for animal blessings. They aren’t uncommon, either. Endicott said.

Endicott has performed animal blessings in the past, but she said it’s something that came from a long time ago — St. Francis of Assisi’s love for all animals. Furthermore, it’s not just a Catholic or Episcopal event. Anyone with an animal from any congregation can attend the event. And there’s no limit to what types of animals they’ll bless.

“We can accommodate any kind of critter that people are in interested in,” she said.

Endicott has seen the usual dogs and cats, but she said people will bring reptiles, birds, ferrets and an array of other critters. She said many people just think of blessing dogs and cats, but it’s important to bless other animals, as well. Endicott hopes someone from the farm community will bring a large animal to bless.

“We benefit a great deal from those animals,” she said.

Among the many animals that may be at the blessing, Endicott said she and the other clergy members will say blessings for those who have lost animals.

With the help of church members, the clergy members will fill out certificates for each animal, saying the animal has been blessed.

Endicott doesn’t expect the event to take long. They want to keep it relatively short, so animals don’t become restless.