Residents Receive Special “Blessing of the Animals”

Darryl Powell, blessing the puppy Angel.Blessing animals may not come to mind when you think of the typical job duties of a spiritual care professional at an independent living community. Yet, this is exactly what Reverend Darryl Powell provided for residents at St. John’s Meadows today.

Reverend Powell presided over a two-hour period where residents could bring their pets in for treats (snacks for the pets and Hershey’s kisses for the pet owners) and a blessing.

Betty Keely and Loretta Bergen, residents and co-owners of the 17-year-old dog Angel, were the first to arrive. Reverend Powell knelt on the dog’s level and offered some words, beseeching the Lord for blessings for Angel, who serenely lived up to her name throughout the blessing.

The “Blessing of the Animals” is not without its precedent, as the practice dates back hundreds of years to the time of St. Francis of Assisi. The patron saint of animals, St. Francis was believed to have preached even to the birds. His influence is well-known throughout the Christian community today, particularly the Franciscan order of monks, which he founded in 1209.

Today’s “Blessing of the Animals” falls on a poignant date, as the traditional holiday of the Feast Day for St. Francis (the date of St. Francis’ death) is observed each year on October 4.

The prayer of St. Francis, which Reverend Powell recited, is as follows:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life

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