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Bless our pets, O Lord

The Rev. Cindy Howard blesses Penelope, held by Sidney Ward as Savannah Morris looks on.

They came with big dogs, little dogs, dogs dressed in prissy outfits. There were two cats, two parakeets, and blessings all ‘round when St. Mary’s Episcopal Church celebrated the blessing of the animals in commemoration of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis lived around 1100, St. Mary’s rector the Rev. Cindy Howard explained. He was born to wealthy parents and enjoyed that wealth for a time. Later, he sold everything he had and gave money to the poor, choosing to live simply and in harmony with all living creatures.

He founded the men’s Franciscan Order, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the lay Third Order of St. Francis. He is known as the patron saint of animals and the environment.

“St. Francis said, ‘Preach the gospel at all times; use words if necessary,’ ” Howard said. “We preach best when we use few words, but instead let our lives show the message.”