MARBLE FALLS — Penny Miller recalled a moment when she realized just how important her congregation’s Blessing of the Animals was for pet owners.
“One time, a pickup drove in a bit early, and we went over and asked if we could help,” said Miller, a member Trinity Episcopal Church in Marble Falls. The driver shared his sad tale with Miller and the others gathered around.
The night before, the man had taken his dog to the veterinarian’s office, where the animal died. When driving through Marble Falls on his way to bury the dog on his ranch, the man noticed a sign hung across RR 1431 about Trinity’s Blessing of the Animals service.
“He wanted to know if our priest could bless his dog, even though it was dead,” Miller said. The priest did, and the man drove off to bury his companion.
“It meant so much to him to have his dog blessed,” Miller said. “I said, ‘Now if that doesn’t make it all worthwhile.'”
Animals and pets, though not human, fill a major part of people’s lives. And Trinity Episcopal recognizes that connection with the church’s annual Blessing of the Animals at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 6. Miller said the plan is to hold the service in the parking lot of the church, 909 Ave. D. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, everyone will just head inside, animals and all.
The Blessing of the Animals tradition stems from St. Francis of Assisi, a monk from the 12th and 13th centuries who was known for his love of nature and animals as well as people. He is the patron saint of animals and the environment.
“We celebrate St. Francis’ feast on Oct. 4, so we hold the blessing on the closest Sunday to that date,” Miller said.
The blessing isn’t just for congregation members and their pets. Everyone is welcome to bring pets for the special Fransican blessing.
“We’ve had snakes, llamas and even horses,” Miller said. “Of course, dogs and cats are the most common.”
While the Episcopal priest blesses the animal, Miller loves the event because she gets to see people enjoying the day with their pets.
“Pets are part of people’s family,” she said. “It’s fun to see that side of our members and the community. We form special bonds with our pets. We just love to see how much (of a bond) from owner to pet.”
All pets should be leashed or confined for safety reasons. The church is accepting donations of old towels, pet supplies, pet food and pet toys, which will be given to the Christ-Yoder Animal Shelter in Buchanan Dam.
There also will be treats for the pets and “their people.”
“It’s a great community outreach event for the church,” Miller said. “It’s one of the those events where everybody is happy.”