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Grace Episcopal to hold Blessing of the Animals on Oct. 1
Owners are welcome to bring any pet or domestic animal
0930 BLESSING 4
All animals at the Blessing of the Animals event need to have appropriate restraints. - photo by For The Times
Blessing of the animals
When: 4 to 5 p.m. Oct. 1
Where: Brenau University front lawn, 431 Washington St., Gainesville

How much: Free

Dogs, cats, turtles, horses and even hamsters have been prayed over at the annual Blessing of the Animals by Grace Episcopal Church of Gainesville. In its fourth year, the event will be held Sunday on the front lawn of Brenau University.

The church, in partnership with the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, welcomes all pets and domestic animals of all shapes and sizes, and their owners, to participate. The Blessing of the Animals will be held at 431 Washington St. in downtown Gainesville at the corner of Washington Street and Boulevard.

“All are welcome to come to Brenau’s lawn, in front of Grace Episcopal Church, at 4 p.m., and bring pets,” said the Rev. Stuart Higginbotham, rector of Grace Church. “Clergy will be on hand to say a prayer of thanksgiving for your pet, and we have small medallions that many put on their pet’s collar. All are welcome.”

The blessing is held each year the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, on Oct. 4. The service provides not only an opportunity for pets to be blessed, but also for owners to give thanks for their many blessings received through pets and animals. It also is a time to remember the responsibility to befriend and care for animals.

“St. Francis, who lived in the 12th century, was known for his compassion and appreciation of creation. He saw God’s presence within all of creation, celebrating that God’s radical love was inclusive of all existence,” Higginbotham said. “St. Francis helps remind us that, because God’s love is poured out in the creation and our existence, we are called to care for the environment and use the resources wisely. It is God’s creation, not ours, and having this day each year helps remind us of our responsibility.”

All animals need to have appropriate restraints. Owners will be responsible for pet waste.

Participants are encouraged to bring donations for the Humane Society. In-kind items on the Humane Society “Wish List” and gift cards to grocery stores, office supply stores, pet stores or Walmart, Sam’s Club or Target are welcome to purchase needed supplies. To see the Wish List, visit www.HSNEGA.org.

“HSNEGA has participated in the Blessing of Animals for many years. It is a wonderful service to honor the pets that bring so much joy to our lives,” said Julie Edwards, Humane Society executive director. “I also love that the service brings together pet-lovers from all faiths and backgrounds. We are so grateful to be able to partner with Grace and bring this event to the community.”

For additional information, call HSNEGA at 770-532-6617 or Grace Episcopal at 770-536-0126.

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