Dogs, cats, other pets can receive blessing

Friday, October 3, 2014

One church ceremony on Saturday will be for the dogs -- and cats.

Episcopal Church of the Redeemer holds a free pet blessing ceremony each year to commemorate the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. The feast day is always on Oct. 4.

This year, First United Methodist will join with Redeemer, said the Rev. Peter Whalen, pastor of the Episcopal church for about nine years.

Move to square

The event will be at 11 a.m. in front of First UMC on the square, said that church's pastor, the Rev. Lanita Monroe. The churches hope to build pull in visitors to Art in the Park on the square, which is from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

"We had wanted to do something as part of Art in the Park," Monroe said. "We thought this would be a way to get involved."

Monroe has participated in animal blessings in years past at other churches. She has been pastor of First UMC since June. She came to Shelbyville from Crossville, where she served for 12 years as associate pastor of Fairfield Glade UMC.

During his 30 years at churches, Whalen said he has blessed a variety of animals in addition to dogs and cats, including snakes, tarantulas, birds, hermit crabs and horses. Monroe said she has even blessed pet cremains.


Pet owners will receive a certificate with the pet's name and a St. Francis pet tag.

In addition to the pet blessing, First UMC will host a free pumpkin and face painting event from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Free water will be made available. Restrooms will be available as well.

St. Francis, who lived from 1182 to 1226, is the patron saint of the ecology and the poor in addition to pets, Whalen said. Francis, the son of wealthy Italian fabric merchants, also was a reformer of the church who lived in poverty, and was a peacemaker and a poet.