Advice on Blessing of the Animals

April is my last month at the church where I am the student intern minister (First Unitarian Universalist Society of Middleboro) and as one of my final services we will be having a Celebration and Blessing of the Animals. However, as the time gets closer, the logistics of this are starting to stress me a little. I have ordered the Blessing of the Animals Guidebook from UFETA and maybe there is good advice in there, but I’m wondering if others have been to such blessings and how they were conducted. Was it a Sunday morning service? Was it held outdoors? Was there a tent? Outdoor seating? Did people stand? Was there a limit on what animals could come or how many per person? If it wasn’t held during normal Sunday services, when was it held? Did a lot of people come? Did you get feedback that would be helpful to share?

Any ideas welcome. I’m very excited. But also not wanting chaos. :)

5 Responses to Advice on Blessing of the Animals

  1. I love the idea of a blessing of the animals sooooo much, but our dog would just not like to be around so many other animals. If possible, I think people should be encouraged to judge whether or not their animals should be around others….

    Reading about this though, I’m not sure how it cannot be chaotic.

  2. Pamela says:

    I’ve been to a few blessing of the animals services at my church. We usually have them outside (SoCal luxury). We didn’t have any limits on the number of animals. One concern I had was mixing animals that might not be comfortable around each other. I think that since we are celebrating animals, we should focus on what is comfortable for them and not put them in stressful situations.

  3. Philocrites says:

    My wife’s Episcopal church does this annually around the feast day for Saint Francis. People are encouraged to bring their animal in a way that will help the animal feel safe: dogs come on leashes, cats in carrying boxes, rodents in cages. The congregation gathers on the church’s large porch in the afternoon (not on Sunday morning), and the relatively simple service gives thanks for animals. At the end, the priests go pet to pet and offer a blessing on the pets and their owners. I think they brought doggie treats for the dogs.

    It is a little bit chaotic, and strange things will happen. One year, a woman brought her pet squirrel (!), not thinking that squirrels simply are not going to be happy around dogs and cats. The squirrel somehow shot out of the woman’s box and into the church itself, where it lived several days before the sexton caught it in another box.

    Middleboro has a nice yard, although it’s on the street. April might still be too early in the year to plan on having everyone out there, but you could set up chairs for those who need them and maybe even a tent.

  4. Donna says:

    Hi, yes, I have been to an animal blessing ceremony at UU in Burlington, VT. I am guessing that you know of the minister and animal rights advocate, Gary Kowalski up there. It was indoors, there were not alot of animals but those who attended were well behaved. Members were also invited to bring photos of animals which we did and if I remember correctly member were invited to go to the front of the sanctuary and say something about their pet. I think also pets that had died. Sort of like joys and sorrows. Perhaps you could contact Gary K. and ask what he has done. I think he does it every year. I agree April is tricky with weather.

    Well, I admire you for taking on this challenge. Let me know if I can assist. I would suggest that people only bring pets who are well socialized and could handle being in the sanctuary for most of the service.

  5. Pat McLaughlin says:

    We’ve held two, the last two years. They’ve been very successful and seem popular. They’ve been inside the sanctuary.

    People were encouraged to bring pets in ways that were safe, secure, sane and comfortable for them and the animal. Dogs tended to be on leash–those that behaved well in conditions with lots of people and other animals (ours, thus, did not–fine with people, but for differing reasons, neither one was likely to do well with other dogs). Our sons took their bearded dragons in a box where they were secure–although they also took them out and wore them, too, since beardies hang onto a shirt happily and are very, very, very, very unlikely to scramble off of one.

    One option that many people have taken advantage of is to bring photos of animals that they can’t reasonably bring into the service. I think that this year, our sons will bring photos of the dogs, and the chickens, and the ducks…. Some folks brought photos of pets that had died in the last year, as well.

    It’s celebratory, an affirmation of the other creatures we’re bound up with. It is inviting a certain greater-than-normal opportunity for chaos; be ready…

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