The unpredictable mix of animals and church liturgy was on show for all but the priest at St Francis of Assisi Ohariu Parish, Friday 4 October, Wellington.
Celebrating the patronal parish feast with a small creation liturgy, priest, Peter Roe was so intent on blessing all the animals he was oblivious to parishioners pointing out, Harold the goat, was nibbling the tassels on his priest’s stole.
One chew too many, a mouthful of tassels and with the stole about to disappear off his shoulders Roe quickly gave the goat a double dose of holy water.
“For the rest of the day he was well behaved”, Roe says.
The St Francis of Assisi liturgy was a first for the recently named combined parish where parishioners were invited to bring their pets for a blessing and a post-liturgy pet parade.
Lambs, rabbits, dogs, cats and even Jojo the pony provided plenty of interest.
Some of those who weren’t able to bring pets arrived wearing animal ‘onesies’ and also joined the celebration.
“As the patron saint of ecologists, and a guide for animal and nature lovers, and environmentalists, Francis shows us how to live in a way that respects and honours all of creation”, said Roe
“Pets are also part of our families, providing us with companionship, emotional support and an opportunity to care for creation beyond ourselves. They reduce our stress and loneliness”, Roe told the congregation.
Roe said that St Francis cared for the poor and sick, and praised all creatures as brothers and sisters under God.
“He bore witness to the need to respect all that God has created and as he created it, without manipulating and destroying creation; rather help it grow, to become more beautiful and more like what God created it to be.
“And above all, St Francis reminds us of our serious obligation to respect and watch over with care, all those good and beautiful things which God has created”, said Roe.
Images: Jonathan Pierce