By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
UPDATE: Due to the forecast of inclement weather, this event has been canceled until further notice.
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – On Sunday, October 7, the First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City will hold its inaugural Blessing of the Animals event, from 2 – 4 p.m. The program will be held outside of the church located at 600 NW 13th Street, at the corner of 13th and Dewey.
The Blessing of Animals is often celebrated on or near October 4 and is recognized as the “Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.” This date also coincides with the conclusion of the Season of Creation (Sept. 1 – Oct. 4), an annual celebration of prayer and action to protect creatures and nature.
It is believed that in the beginning, a procession of animals, everything from dogs and cats to hamsters and horses, were led to churches for this special blessing ceremony. This custom continues to be conducted in remembrance of Saint Francis’ love for all creatures.
October 4, is also recognized globally as World Animal Day. Founded in 1925 by Heinrich Zimmermann, a German writer and animal protection activist, its mission is to raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe.
“This is intended to be a fun, family-focused event that celebrates the important roles that domestic and wild animals play in our lives,” said Rev Dr. Diana Davies, minister of First Unitarian Church of OKC.
The actual blessing, beginning at 2:15 p.m., will take place just outside the church in the Allen courtyard. There will be seats available and the courtyard is wheelchair accessible via the ramp from the sanctuary.
“As Unitarian Universalists, we affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part,” Davies added. “It’s important that we pause to show gratitude for the many creatures that bless our world, from domestic pets to farm animals to wild animals. Our welfare and wellbeing are deeply connected to theirs.”
The program will include a short ceremony and animal blessing, along with a memorial table where participants are encouraged to share pictures, photos, poems, and memories of the furry, feathered, scaly or other type of animals who have blessed their lives.
The Oct. 7 event will feature activities and informational tables on the church’s front lawn (facing Dewey St.) where participating animal welfare and rescue organizations will present their messages. Confirmed participants include: Free to Live, A-1 Pet Emporium, and WildCare Foundation.
In the event of rain or extreme weather, the Blessing of the Animals will be rescheduled for another date in the fall.
Animals with no history of aggression, who are up to date on their vaccinations are invited to participate. All animals must be on-leash or in an appropriate container (crate, birdcage, terrarium, etc.).