By The Reverend Dr. William A. Evertsberg
Most churches celebrate their Blessing of the Animals service on or near October 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (1182–1226), but at Kenilworth Union we bring our pets to church on the first Sunday after Christmas—December 29 this year—because St. Francis is the first person we know about who put animals into his creche—real animals.
It might not be the most serene or choreographed liturgy of the year, but it’s probably the happiest. We’ll have beautiful music by some bipeds, but most of the doxologies will be offered up in the form of barks, whines, and howls. Please join us at 10:30 a.m. for a chaotic, clamorous chorus of canine cacophony.
Last year, 52 dogs attended divine worship and 191 non-canines, along with a smattering of pet photographs and cherished stuffed animals. If your furry, four-footed friend does not play well with others, please bring a photographed facsimile or inanimate replica to get a blessing at a distance.
My assistant pastor Dudley has presided over this service for the last five years, but Dudley is gone, so this service will be different for my family this year. Several other church families are in the same situation, so maybe we will say a prayer asking God to give them a pat on the head on the other side of the rainbow bridge.
Many of you have been kind enough to ask Kathy and me if and when we will appoint Dudley’s successor, and I’ve told many of you this story, so forgive me if you’ve heard it, and most of you have.
Both of my children were married this year, so in October my daughter Taylor sent us a letter, speaking for her new husband, her brother, and his new wife, telling us that to thank us for the beautiful celebrations, the four of them wanted to buy us a golden retriever puppy.
It was one of the best letters we’ve ever gotten. That letter motivated us to begin our search for a new Walmart Greeter at Kenilworth Union. We’ll visit a couple of kennels during the holidays.
When Dudley died, Ann Perce said a wise, kind thing: “They give us everything but a long life.” Yes? We need to bless them, and to thank them, while we’ve got them.