From left, Raggie, the Rev. Dale Plummer and Clarissa during a photo op at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Tuesday. (Jessica Palmer Photo)
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 505 N. Pennsylvania Ave., will hold its 5th annual Blessing of the Animals on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Rev. Dale W. Plummer, St. Andrews rector, will officiate.
“We do this in honor of St. Francis,” he said.
St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and the environment. Catholic and Anglican churches hold ceremonies for animals on his feast day, Oct. 4.
Plummer is an animal lover and a longtime adherent to the blessing of the animals. He has conducted blessings for at least 10 years in churches in Topeka and Junction City, Kan. He moved to Roswell more than a year ago and has upheld the tradition here.
Plummer said that all pets are welcome to the ceremony on Sunday. The animals need not be limited to cats and dogs.
Through the years, Plummer has blessed some pretty unusual animals. “I remember a little boy who brought in a tarantula in a box.” In the past, St. Andrews has also blessed an iguana, brought in by Cassie Gross of the Roswell Humane Society. “I remember a ferret and we have had some horses. Those we do in the parking lot,” Plummer said.
Each animal receives an individual blessing, along with prayers for all God’s creatures, said Plummer. Last year some 50 pets and their humans attended the feast day celebration.
Plummer was also called upon to conduct the memorial services for Roswell’s, and America’s, hero dog Sage. He and his family have two dogs, one a rescued yellow Labrador and the second a red heeler pup.
Plummer feels that the blessing of the animals is important. “… pets become members of our family, and from the theological perspective, we have stewardship over animals and … on this day, we have an opportunity to bless those closest to us.”
Raggy and Clarissa, the animals provided for the preliminary blessing on Tuesday, came from the Roswell Humane Society. Plummer said that on Sunday the church will set out collection boxes for items to be used by Humane Society. Gross said, “We need cheap kitty litter, Pedigree puppy food, both dry and canned, cleaning goods. Anything would be welcomed.”
She noted that the Humane Society is funded primarily by donations from businesses, individuals and organizations and the proceeds of their shop. They receive no government funds. “We got a full house right now with some 60 dogs and 19 cats. Once these get adopted, they’ll be replaced. We stay pretty full at all times,” she said.