Individuals from across the community are welcome to attend a special event at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church to get their furry friends blessed, thereby giving respect and love for their companionship.
Taking place Aug. 9 at 2 p.m., the event is sponsored by Saanich Peninsula Anglican and Roman Catholic parishes. The service is continued on as a tradition, which began around 800 years ago in Italy in St. Francis of Assisi.
Rob Szo, pastor at St. Stephen’s, said the religious event is about giving thanks for the variety that God created and the companionship people get from their animal(s).
“These dogs and cats are real companions and there is a real bond. It’s just a simple way of saying thank you for creating these animals, they bring a lot of value to my life and its just our way of blessing them and just kind of recognizing their place in our lives,” said Szo.
The service will be attended by around 150-200 people, and sees a variety of animals including dogs, cats, horses, sheep and more. All pets are required to be in a carrier or on a leash. The owner will then walk them outside along the side of the church to be blessed by one of the priests who will go out into the crowd, putting their hand out to bless the pet. The owner will then be given a blessing certificate signed by the priest with the name of their pet on the certificate.
There will be music, prayers and readings from scripture for the community to enjoy as part of the celebration, and a collection will be taken to go towards the Pacific Animal Therapy Society. PATS is an animal therapy program that has volunteers bring their pets to visit hospitals, retirement facilities and many other places where residents can benefit from the interaction with them.
There will also be a recording done by Psalm 98 on Aug. 4 with some copies of their CD to be sold at the service, with money also going towards PATS.
St. Stephens Anglican Church is located at 7921 St. Stephen’s Road in Saanichton.