Preschoolers bring pets to church for a blessing

Annual event inspired by St. Francis

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The courtyard of Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra Beach was busy on the morning of Oct. 6 as the Christ Church Preschool hosted its annual Blessing of the Pets. Families brought their pets to the church for blessings by the clergy in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi, who is known for his love of animals.

The church held a second blessing later the same day.

Though all the preschoolers’ pets were of the canine variety, the church has seen a range of animals over the years. According to church member Amanda Spencer, there have been horses, hairless guinea pigs, days-old kittens and chickens.

Perhaps the most unusual were the parrots that Spencer said often sing along with the hymns.

In addition to the blessings, the preschool students and their families donated more than 250 pounds of pet food to the church’s St. Francis Ministry for the Animals. The ministry collects the pet food and distributes it to rescues.

Ministry founder Jen Regan predicted that nearly 1,400 pounds of pet food will have been donated by the end of this quarter.

The ministry serves a number of pet-related needs. It subsidizes veterinary care for people who are financially struggling and cannot afford to take their pets to see the vet in a program aptly named Pets to Vets.

“We’re affiliated with a pet therapy program called Paws for Friendship,” said Regan, “and the people that are part of that visit the different assisted-living facilities and rehab centers with their pets.”

The ministry also provides grant money to rescues and other animal organizations.

The ministry is looking for more members. To that end, it’s planning a meet-and-greet Oct. 20 at Lulu’s Waterfront Grille, 301 Roscoe Blvd. North.

In addition, the ministry is planning a fundraising event called Sip and Shop from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 12 and 13 in the parish center dining room.

“People can come and shop for very nice fashions,” Regan said.

For further information on the St. Francis Ministry for the Animals, contact Regan at jenniferregan@bellsouth.net or go to the website at stfrancisministry.org.

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