CAMDEN – It was reigning cats and dogs on the Camden Village Green Sunday afternoon, Oct. 6, for the annual service of the Blessing of the Animals, a celebration of the human-animal bond and a part of a national celebration which is held near the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi.
St. Francis was a 13-Century Italian monk who was known for his love of animals and ability to communicate with them. Services to bless animals and remember his legacy have been conducted for centuries in many traditions.
This year, the service was a collaboration of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, First Congregational United Church of Christ, and John Street United Methodist Church with the Reverends Lisa Fry, Dr. Ute S. Molitor, Chellie Wiley officiating, respectively, along with Rev. Abby Pettee, Chaplain at Pen Bay Medical Center.
Most of the animals arrived at the event with their owners on leashes and in travel carriers, but some had a different mode of transportation, including the comfort of a knapsack or a baby carriage.
Doc Martin, Arthur, Barley, Ginger, Lucy, Teddy, Daisy, Brody, Tucker, Iggy, Pippa, Telltale, Fitz, Shaza, Dempsey, and Coco were some of the furry creatures who gathered on the Village Green.
Many of the animals stood patiently with their owners while waiting for their turn for their individual blessing, some curious about what was going to take place, and a few a tad bit feisty after they discovered a potential playmate in the crowd.
The gentleness of the clergy when they laid their hands on the animals’ foreheads to administer their individual blessings, created a sense of calmness and trust.
Words from a blessing prayer read in unison by the humans and clergy during the brief program, included blessing the animals with the healing power to those who are ill, remembering their ministry of caring and service, and honoring them with kindness, dignity and respect.
Those who gathered also sang the Anglican hymn, “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, written in 1848 by Cecil Francis Alexander, and many owners tenderly placed their hand on their pets or held them close as the words were sung in unison.
The chorus of the hymn especially illustrated one of the prevailing themes during the Service of the Blessing of the Animals.
“All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, in love God made them all.”
Sarah Shepherd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org