If you’re heading to St George’s Anglican Church this Sunday, don’t be surprised if you end up sharing a pew with a dog, a cat or even a budgie or two.
The Tauranga SPCA is holding its annual pet blessing service to celebrate and give thanks to our companion animals and recognise the life of the patron saint of animals, Saint Francis of Assisi.
It also marks World Animal Day, which was celebrated earlier this month on October 4.
All pets are welcome, but dogs must be on leads while cats must be in carriers, and bird, mice and other small critters in cages. Donkeys and horses must remain in the garden.
If your pet is not comfortable with other animals, loud noise or crowds, you can bring along a photo of your pet to be blessed instead.
Saint Francis was believed to have built bonds of love with all kinds of creatures, but he had a special relationship with birds, who often followed him around and rested on his shoulders, arms or hands as he prayed or walked around outside.
He famously preached an impromptu sermon to a flock of birds in Italy.
The non-denominational pet blessing service gets under way at 10am on Sunday, October 21, at St George’s Anglican Church, 1 Church Street, Gate Pa and will be followed by morning tea.