KAPAA — Sunday’s service at the All Saints Episcopal Church and Preschool was moved outdoors and performed in a more informal manner to accommodate special guests — pets and children.
“If a pet or child makes noise, it is not a problem because it is a joyful noise,” states a page from the day’s program for the Blessing of the Animals Service, or the Saint Francis Day Eucharistic Service.
“Pets are special,” said the Rev. Ryan Newman, rector and school head for All Saints.
“They give us unconditional love, and the things they do to drive us crazy — like chewing up baby clothes, a favorite couch pillow and more — are just some of the things they do to show us this love.”
The church celebrated the Blessing of the Animals on a Sunday close to the Feast of St. Francis, which is Oct. 4.
Other Episcopal churches around Kauai shared similar celebrations.
Newman bestowed blessings on all, including stuffed animals like an elephant named Ben and a baby seal belonging to Ellie Yu, 4, who was accompanied to the service by the family pet, Simon. The adopted dog was named after saimin because his hair becomes long and curly when allowed to grow out.
Even pictures of pets were allowed; a line of people formed after the blessing of present animals, holding out their smart phones with photographs of their treasured animals.
St. Francis of Assisi was known for his love of animals and there are stories of him preaching to flocks of birds, dissuading mosquitoes from biting him, and even convincing a wolf to stop stalking humans and livestock in Gubbio, Italy, according to an online page from the Episcopal Church classroom website.
During the Blessing of the Animals, people take time to remember and emulate Francis’ example of love for animals, and appreciation for all of God’s creations — big or small.
The free-will offering gathered at All Saints Episcopal Church will be presented to Animal Balance, a global nonprofit dedicated to creating positive change on islands around the world.
Recently, 802 cats were neutered during a spay and neuter campaign held by the group at the All Saints facility.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.