Local churches are joining the annual Blessing of the Animals in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. Events schedule thus far, include the following.
• Lake Seminole Presbyterian Church, 8505 113th St., will host its annual Blessing of Pets on Saturday, Oct. 5, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The event will begin with a brief worship service in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who loved animals as God's creatures. Each year, about 150 pets are individually blessed by Pastor Bob Wierenga. Each owner receives a Certificate of Blessing with the name of their pet. For more information, call 505-3831.
• The blessing of the animals will take place Saturday, Oct. 5, 10 a.m., at St. Jerome Roman Catholic Church, 10865 Hamlin Blvd. in Largo. All animals, from hamsters to horses, are invited to come to St. Jerome Catholic Church for a special blessing by the Rev. Gregory Reisert, O.F.M., in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. All animals should be leashed or restrained by their owners. For information, call 595-4610.
• The second annual Blessing of the Animals will be Saturday, Oct. 5, 10 a.m. to noon, at St. Dunstan’s Anglican Church, 1270 Sunny Breeze Ave. in Largo. The community is invited to attend this event. All warm-blooded pets are welcomed and will receive an individual blessing. It is a tradition of Anglican churches to celebrate the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of the Animals by Blessing of the Animals. St. Francis is a patron saint of Italy who lived from about 1181 to 1226 A.D. He is also credited with the creation of the Presipio or Creche (Nativity scene) using live animals in the tableau. Visit www.stdunstansanglican.org.
• The Blessing of the Animals, Sunday, Oct. 6, 3 to 5 p.m., at Good Samaritan Church, 6085 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park. This will be the fifth year of the event. The church averages 67 animals a year seeking a blessing during the two-hour event.
Pet owners receive a blessing certificate, a photo of the hands-on blessing, a gift bag and can enter the raffles to win a gift basket for a cat or a dog. New this year will be Ask Donna – Donna Bainter, former SPCA director of behavior and training, will be at the event to address any questions on pet behavior and training.
Additionally, cash donations will be accepted for Rugaz Rescue, a New Port Richey rescue group that devotes their efforts to helping the pit bull terriers that have been abused, neglected, and discarded. Their medical costs soar as they help the dogs scarred by burns and neglect. For information about the group, visit www.rugazrescue.com. For information about the event, call 544-8558 or visit www.goodsam-church.org.
• The Blessing of the Animals, Sunday, Oct. 6, 10 a.m., at St. John's Episcopal Church, 1676 S. Belcher Road, Clearwater. All animals are invited to come to St. John's Episcopal Church to be blessed in honor of St. Francis. Animal owners are welcome to accompany their pets. This annual event is great fun, as pets come to church. All pets should be leashed or in some way restrained. There is no cost to attend. For information, call 531-6020.