St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment, was born in Italy around 1181/1182. His Feast Day is October 4. Because Francis expressed his devotion to God through his love for all of God’s creation, praising all creatures as sisters and brothers under God, the custom of offering blessings of animals around or on his Feast Day grew up.
Congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth will be offerings blessings of animals in a variety of settings including church lawns and porches, park pavilions, and parking lots during the weekends of October 1- 2 and October 8 – 9.
Saturday, Oct. 1
West Fort Worth
9 am – All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 5001 Crestline Road, Fort Worth, TX 76107. Pet Blessings will begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. on the lawn. Every animal will receive an individual blessing. All well-behaved pets and their people are welcome. Clergy: The Rev. Christopher Jambor, the Rev. Melanie Barbarito, the Rev. Jordan Haynie Ware, the Rev. Lynne Waltman
Southwest Fort Worth
10 am – St. Christopher Episcopal Church, 3550 Southwest Loop 820, Fort Worth, TX 76133, on the porch in front of the main church building. Cat and dog treats provided. Bearded dragons and turtles welcome. Clergy: The Rev. Bill Stanford
10:30-11:30 – St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 463 West Harwood Road, Hurst, TX 76054, will bless household pets in front of the church in the Gazebo at the Village Plaza shopping center. Clergy: The Rev. Bob Gross
Sunday, October 2
East Fort Worth
10 am – St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church will have a short worship service in the pavilion at Oakland Lake Park, 1645 Lake Shore Drive, Fort Worth, 76103 at 10 am on Sunday, Oct. 2. The Rev. Karen Calafat said, “We are having a family-friendly Eucharist (about 30 min. long), with guitars accompanying for music, followed by the Blessing of the Animals.” Clergy: The Rev. Karen Calafat
Map to Oakland Park
4-5 pm – Trinity Episcopal Church, 3401 Bellaire Drive So., Ft. Worth, TX 76109, will have a Blessing of the Animals hosted by the 20s and 30s group. Pets and people are invited to come for a blessing and go to the dog park afterwards. Clergy: The Rev. Carlye Hughes, the Rev. Andrew Wright, the Rev. Stephanie Moncrieff, the Rev. Amy Haynie
3-4 pm – The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Granbury, will hold a Blessing of the Animals at Hewlett Park, 650 E State Loop 426, Granbury, TX 76048. Clergy: The Rev. Suzi Robertson
Map to Hewlett Park
Saturday, October 8
10 am – The Episcopal Church of Wise County will join the First United Methodist Church of Decatur for a joint Blessing of the Animals on Saturday, October 8, at 10:00 a.m., at the historic Episcopal Mission of the Ascension, 905 S. Church Street, Decatur, TX 76234. All members of the community, two-and-four legged, are welcome. Clergy: The Rev. Tony Hiatt
5 pm – St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 223 S. Pearson Lane, Keller, Texas, 76248. There will be a Blessing of the Pets in which current pets are blessed and pets no longer with us are remembered. Children can have their stuffed animals blessed. Drive-by blessings are offered for shyer pets, and there will an opportunity to support the Humane Society of North Texas with food donations. Clergy: The Rev. Scot McComas, the Rev. Susan Slaughter
Sunday, October 9
10 am – St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Theatre Arlington, will celebrate “The Blessing of the Animals” at Gene Allen Park adjacent to the Arlington Museum of Art, 201 West Main Street. There will be free pet treats and owners can have a complimentary photograph taken with their pet. Pets need to be on a leash or crated for safety. Because of construction on Main Street, the street is blocked just west of Arlington City Hall, so parking will be at Theatre Arlington, 305 W. Main St. There will also be parking on Main Street. Clergy: The Rev. Kevin Johnson
Map to Gene Allen Park
Francis preached to birds, made pact with wolf
Francis is arguably one of the most popular and beloved saints. Perhaps the most common depiction of Francis shows him holding a bird with an animal, often a wolf, at his feet. These depict famous stories about the saint, Francis preaching to the birds, and Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio.
Thomas of Celano tells the story of Francis finding a flock of birds in a place near Bevagna. Francis ran to them, and when the birds did not scatter, he spoke to them, “My brother and sisters birds, you should greatly praise your Creator and love Him always. He clothed you with feathers and gave you wings for flying. Among all His creatures He made you free and gave you the purity of the air. You neither sow nor reap, He nevertheless governs you without your least care.” The birds did not leave “until, having made the sign of the cross, he blessed them and gave them permission. . . From that day on, he carefully exhorted birds and beasts and even insensible creatures to praise and love the Creator.”
In the story of St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio, Francis finds and tames a wolf who was terrorizing a village. With prayer and grace, Francis negotiates a pact between the wolf and the villagers that lasted until the wolf died of old age.