ANN ABOUT TOWN: The Blessing of the Animals at All Saints Episcopal Church

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 9:02 am
Ann Nichols

Note: ELi is instituting new weekly features! Today we introduce our new Tuesday feature, "Ann About Town", in which writer and bon vivant Ann Nichols goes somewhere in or around East Lansing and does some interesting stuff. If you have an idea about someplace she should go, please use our contact form.

The crowd in the parking lot of All Saints Episcopal Church included three Dalmatians, an agitated Dachshund, and a placid Whippet. Other faces in the crowd included a noble in a Scotty in a plaid blanket, and a terrified black cat on a leash accompanied by two small princesses in tutus.  These animals and others (along with their owners) gathered last Sunday afternoon to participate in the annual Blessing of Animals, conducted by The Reverend Kit Carlson and The Reverend Sarah Midzalkowski. The Blessing honored St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, whose feast day is celebrated on October 4th.

According to Reverend Carlson, Rector of All Saints, the Church offered a yearly Blessing of the Animals long before she arrived in 2007.” It's a lovely tradition” she says, “that allows us to connect with an observance of St. Francis's day, a commitment to care for God's creation, and to tap into the joy that our companion animals give us.”  

The event was marked by that “joy,” on the part of both canine and human participants, with a near-constant sound of barking, growling and admonitions to “get down” or “be still.”  The cats in attendance seemed considerably less exuberant, although they relaxed long enough to receive the offered, individual blessing and a light sprinkling of holy water.

The noise and chaos neither disturbed nor surprised either of the officiants;  Carlson herself is a “dog mother,” a “grandmother” to three dogs, and “aunt” to two others, and Reverend Midzalkowski is another “dog mother,” who brought her Dalmatians Chip and Jack to the ceremony.

Carlson believes that the Blessing of the Animals has deep significance for herself, as well as for other human and animal participants. “I find that my connection with animals keeps me grounded. Being around animals connects me to God who created the whole universe, and who expresses that creativity in these creatures who touch us and love us and tend to us as much as we tend to them.”


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