Catholics around the world celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi on Oct. 4, with many gathering at nearby churches, schools and other locations for a pet blessing in honor of the patron saint of animals and ecology. St. Francis, one of the best-known saints, was said to have practiced his preaching by giving talks to the birds. It’s been said that his words were so compelling birds would fly down from the trees and perch on his shoulders to hear him.
To honor the beloved saint, who also founded the Franciscan Order, St. Peter Church on East 17th Street in downtown Cleveland – near the campus of Cleveland State University – welcomes pets and their owners to the first “@7 on 17th” downtown event, which will include a blessing of the animals and a social hour.
“Catholics care for all of creation,” said Mike Hayes, director of young adult ministry for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. “On Monday, we want to kick off our downtown hub at St. Peter’s by honoring our great St. Francis and showing our love for our pets who reflect God’s love to us with their companionship. So, bring your dogs, cats, guinea pigs or chameleons.”
@7 on 17th is a new ministry experience for young Catholics in Cleveland’s downtown neighborhoods and beyond. Historic St. Peter Church, 1533 E. 17th St., will serve as the central hub that Hayes referenced. Beginning in October, a series of social, spiritual and service activities will be offered six days a week. This new ministry is a collaboration between Father Damian Ference, the diocesan vicar for evangelization, and the Young Adult Ministry Office.
“When I walk downtown, I see a lot of young adult residents walking their dogs and I often wonder if any of those dogs have been blessed,” Father Ference said. “Why not come? Have your pet blessed and see the beautiful space of St. Peter’s – especially if it’s been a while (since you were in church),” he added.
Those attending the pet blessing need not be Catholic – all are welcome. In addition, donations will be accepted to support PAWS Ohio, a public animal welfare society that supports pet adoption, rescue and shelters. The event will include fall refreshments. There also will be giveaways – magnets and stickers outlining future @7 on 17th programming.
Click here to learn more about @7 on 17th.
For more information on young adult ministry in the diocese, contact Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646-671-3671.