1. Anyone can bring animals to be blessed
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Hopewell Presbyterian Church, La Escuelita San Marcos and Carolina Big Hearts Big Bark Rescue Group are partnering to host a community blessing of the animals service. Sarah Milholland, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church program coordinator, said this service has been done annually for the last dozen years to bless animals and pets. During the event, the pastor will have people bring their pets up. Animals of all types receive a special blessing. “We always have a lot of dogs and cats, but we love other types of kinds like fish, lizards, chickens, guinea pigs,” she said. “It would be great to have a horse or rodent.” All pets should be on a leash or in a carrier.
2. There’s a reason for the service now
The Blessing of the Animals is typically held in October around the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, which is recognized Oct. 4. He was an Italian monk who noted the connection between all of God’s creatures. It’s an important relationship, Milholland said. She added many pets are a big part of the family, and this is a way to include them in another way. “We love our pets, and it’s nice to feel like we are doing something for them,” she said.
3. This is aimed to be communitywide
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church members typically hold the special animal service on the church property on Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road. It was moved to a more public place at Latta Plantation with other groups invited to ensure people understand anyone and everyone is invited. Milholland said while the normal church services are open to the community year-round, this is typically a time the church sees a lot of visitors, even if they don’t come other times of the year.
4. Students from the Latino preschool will be there
St. Mark’s Episcopal partners with Hopewell Presbyterian Church to run La Escuelita San Marcos, which offers bilingual daycare and education for Latino youngsters ages 2-5 to prepare them for kindergarten. Families from this program were invited to participate in the blessing of the animals service. They will be bringing food from their native countries and selling it to benefit the school. Previous events have included items such as sopapillas, tamales, horchata and chicken. By adding the refreshments component, Milholland said, the hope is also to allow people to raise money to support the preschool, learn more about some of the animal organizations and fellowship with other attendees.
5. A nonprofit dog rescue will be represented
Carolina Big Hearts Big Barks Rescue is a nonprofit dog rescue that will be represented at the service to share information about the organization that serves the greater Charlotte area. Suzanne Blocker, vice president and co-founder of the group, said CBHBB is dedicated “to rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming large breed dogs.” It is solely a foster and volunteer-based group so dogs stay in their foster homes until they are adopted. “We were delighted to be invited to the Blessing of the Animals event,” Blocker said. “We will be attending (the) event to gain exposure for our rescue, and we will also have some adoptable dogs on-site! We will be collecting donations as well, as we provide all the supplies for dogs in our care, as well as all necessary shots, spay/neuter, microchip and any veterinary care they may need.”