One of about a dozen pets brought to the yearly Blessing of the Animals at Pell City’s St. Simon Peter Episcopal Church Sunday, this was one little Dachshund who wasn’t quite sure he was where he wanted to be.
A low growl greeted Father Jonathan Waddell when he reached toward the fellow for a pat, but that’s just the way some animals are when they’re a little out of their comfort zone.
With some comforting words and understanding from Waddell and Zebedee’s owners, Oscar and Peggy Price of Pell City, the dog finally poked his nose out from underneath his hiding place with Mrs. Price and got his blessing.
“I’ve never lost a dog yet, but they’re always on a short leash,” Waddell noted.
St. Simon Peter has held the event for years, inviting anyone and everyone to have their animals blessed and have the opportunity to learn more about the man known as St. Francis of Assisi.
Through the years, there have been birds of all kinds and even larger creatures like horses and donkeys welcomed to the event, each one having their owner tell a little bit about them prior to the blessing.
Many of the pets attending this year were rescues, either from a roadside or byway or from an animal shelter facility.
And one, a beautiful black and white Border Collie named Raz, was blessed in his memory using a photograph, having died two weeks ago.
His owner, Vickie Yaeger, brought the picture and told the group how Raz took it as his “job” to “mind” the grandchildren when they visited, and what a wonderful pet he was.
Waddell told about the life of St. Francis, who is known as the patron saint of animals, and also, of the environment. He was pronounced a saint July 16, 1228 by Pope Gregory IX, two years after his death in 1226.
“All of us have been put here to be stewards of the creator,” Waddell said. “And for St. Francis, this meant as stewards for creations that include the animals and the environment. I think that St. Francis calls us to this vision.”
Waddell said he believes that St. Francis calls people to his vision.
“I believe he would say to find a way to be the most efficient and responsible stewards in using the things we have in this world,” he said. “And to leave our world better than when we got here.”
Waddell also pointed out St. Francis’ concern with the poor in society.
St. Francis was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone and was nicknamed “Francesco” (translation “the Frenchman”) by his father, who was a successful silk merchant.
His early years were spent as a wealthy young man, but he went off to war as a soldier for Assisi in 1204.
His story tells of a vision he had, which turned his thought around on how to live his worldly life.
He was moved to live in poverty and deliver his beliefs on the streets of Assisi, which brought forth a following from the people.
St. Francis founded the Order of Poor Clares that became an order for women and also the Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance, also called the Third Order.
Waddell made his way from pet to pet during Sunday’s ceremony, each pet getting a pat and their blessing and afterward, special treats prepared for their visit.
Making reference once more to the teachings of St. Francis, Waddell included the following passage in his remarks on the occasion.
“Let us give thanks and praise to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us, especially for our animal friends who give us food and clothes, sometimes bear our burdens, give us rides and bring us companionship and joy,” he said.