The Reverend Mandy Wheatley led the Blessing of the Animals in the grounds of the Uniting Church, Bodalla on Sunday, October 29.
It was a beautiful morning, sunny and not too hot - perfect for the many dogs and their owners who arrived to take part. Rugs were spread, chairs for people, and mats for dogs set out amongst the beautiful gardens in the church grounds.
One little boy brought along his guinea pig in a box, whilst other people brought along photos of pets that were no longer of this world, or could not attend, such as “Reggie” the parrot.
The blessing of the animals is celebrated around the world on or about October 4, which is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. Today St. Francis, patron saint of animals and the environment, would most likely be viewed as an Earth Day advocate. His love was for all of God’s creatures. He cared for the poor and sick, preached sermons to animals, and praised all creation.
The ceremony at Bodalla began at 11.15am and Mandy skilfully led everyone through the formalities, with humour and generosity of spirit.
Choristers and musicians provided a welcome musical foundation for the singing. All things bright and beautiful was definitely a favourite and, thanks to the song sheets provided, everyone joined in with gusto. There were even a few woofs and barks, and of course glorious songs from native birds added to the occasion.
Offerings gathered on the day were donated to three animal welfare organisations - the RSPCA, the Animal Welfare League (AWL) Eurobodalla and Narooma Dog Training Club branches – all of which were very appreciative. Each of these organisations works hard for the welfare of animals in our community. AWL rehomes cats and dogs, as does RSPCA, whilst the Narooma Dog Training Club focuses on developing strong bonds between handlers and their canine friends through obedience training.
Whether religious or not, everyone agreed that it was a beautiful ceremony. Every animal received an individual blessing from Reverend Mandy and a gift of food. And everyone went away with a key message of the blessing – take care of all animals as we would take care of ourselves. Animals are gifts in our lives, to be treasured.
For information about AWL Narooma Dog Training Club, please call Carol on 0458 953 281.