Get your pet blessed this weekend in Vancouver

Vancouver Courier


The folks at St. John’s Shaughnessy Anglican Church appear ready to look past the principle architect behind the Original Sin.

This weekend’s Blessing of the Animals event is now five years in the offing and typically includes cats, dogs, goldfish and the odd rodent.

St. John’s Shaughnessy archdeacon John Stephens and reverend Liz Hamet gave Cody the Doberman coonhound communion in the form of a treat while owner Ali Zahedi looked on during the 2016 Blessing of the Animals ceremony. Photo by Rebecca Blissett

Despite the symbolic betrayal that dastardly snake pulled on Adam and Eve way back when, serpents are invited, too.

“A snake would be fine as long as it’s in the proper cage,” church administrator Janet Hamilton told the Courier.

Beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30, the ceremony includes prayers, songs and a sprinkling of holy water for the couple dozen pets expected to show up.

Archdeacon John Stephens and reverend Liz Hamet will head up the proceedings, which are meant to coincide with the death of St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis was born into wealth around 1180, renounced his earthly creature comforts and instead chose a path of modesty and servitude. He devoted his life to all things animals before his death on Oct. 3, 1226 and is now recognized as a patron saint of ecologists.

St. Francis is said to be the first Catholic who taught that the Earth itself is holy.

“St. Francis looked after the animals, and he felt a lot more should be done for animals than just praying,” Hamilton said.

Sunday’s blessing bonanza won’t be confined to pets still among the living. Dead pets will be memorialized via candles and old photos that will be added to a memorial board.

The event is expected to last about an hour and is open to anyone regardless of religious affiliation. Each blessing, depending on the pet’s demeanour, takes about a minute.

“We’ve never had a problem,” Hamilton said. “We’ve had a few ‘growlies’ or ‘barkies’ but then the owner deals with it very well. There’s never been anything that’s been out of hand.”

Donations from Sunday’s service will go to the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association.