UUs to offer a Blessing of the Animals


By Pauline Benetti

Pagosa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

What an amazing church we are; last month in a service led by Michael Demchak, we celebrated the pagan sabbath Mabon. This month, we will celebrate St. Francis, the Catholic saint. As we say at the beginning of our service: “We cherish diversity.” 

After a hiatus of a couple of years, Pagosa Unitarian Universalist (UU) Fellowship will once again offer a Blessing of the Animals service.

A word about St. Francis, who as the patron saint of ecology, is an early advocate for the UU seventh principle — respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part: He is an old saint, canonized in 1228 and celebrated in the town of Assisi, Italy, in the Church of St. Francis of Assisi and around the world. Oct. 4 is his birthday. 

Francis was born into wealth and after a not-very-promising beginning. By age 14, he had left school and was a rebellious teenager who frequently drank, partied and broke the city curfew — he was captured as a prisoner and spent a year in jail waiting for his ransom. That year was pivotal. There, he heard the voice of God and upon his release became a devotee of the Christian faith. 

During his life he also developed a deep love of nature and animals and became the patron saint of the environment and animals; his life and words have had a lasting resonance with millions of followers across the globe. Each October, many animals the world over are blessed on his feast day. And that is what we will do during the service on Oct. 3.

Here are the particulars: everyone is invited to bring their beloved “critter” of whatever variety. We ask only that you are in control or, if you are doubtful, you can bring a photo. Also bring a photo if your beloved has passed. The service will be outside, which will help to keep the peace; however, we will be in October, so take a good look at the weather and dress accordingly and expect the unexpected. Given the circumstances, planning will take us only so far. Pauline Benetti will be the circus leader. You are invited to bring something to share as we join for coffee or tea and conversation following the service.

Our fellowship offers each individual support in our unique spiritual path and an opportunity to participate in positive social and environmental action. We welcome diversity and invite everyone to share in our faith community. 

Religious Exploration (RE) classes will not be resumed until more normal conditions exist. For more information about RE, contact Anna Ramirez at afrancis_@hotmail.com. 

Find us in Unit B-15 of the Greenbriar Plaza. From North Pagosa Boulevard, turn right onto Park Avenue and right again into Greenbriar Plaza, then turn left and continue around the complex until you see the Unitarian Universalist sign as it faces the mountains. Join us. For further information about the Pagosa UU Fellowship, visit pagosauu.org.