NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - For over forty years the Nacogdoches community has celebrated a tradition that began in the 1800's with Saint Francis, patron saint of animals and ecology.
"The humane society and the ministerial alliance have been doing this for years, but it's a much larger thing dating back to 1800's," said Reverend Kyle Childress from Austin Heights Baptist Church. "It's in honor of Saint Francis, who we remember had a deep sense of kinship with all of God's world, animals, and creation."
Saint Francis's vision for caring and loving all creatures on earth continues today as the community gathered to bless their own pets.
"Today we were giving thanks for the blessing of our animals and how they make our lives happier," David Taravella said, who attended with his dog and Boy Scout Troop. "I think it's important because dogs play a big role in our lives and they're our best friends so it's important to pray for them too."
Many different clergies from Nacogdoches came together to read prayers from a pamphlet given to all in attendance, but reminded all that the gathering was not limited to just pets.
"We remember that Saint Francis had this profound sense of peace, of right relationships, so in that spirit we come together to bless these animals, mostly people's pets, but to also remember it is our calling to care for all of creation to which the Lord has blessed us with," said Childress.
For President of the Nacogdoches Humane Society board, John Anderson, honoring the Saint's request to pray for all animals, goes beyond appreciation, and said has the ability to teach us something very important about how we treat all of humanity.
"They can stop and think of one word which is built into all of this, and that is empathy," Anderson said. "So the idea of responsible ownership, empathetic concern for how an animal feels, is part of what we are doing today."
He said he wants the group to focus on how their actions and lives can affect the lives of others whether they are human or animal, and how he feels it can shape the paradigm in which people live and interact.
"It's particularly important, regardless of religious beings, to realize there are people who believe, that the care and love of an animal is the thing that makes us civilized," Anderson said. "This is found in all studies of ethical living."
As the group focused their blessings on all of creation, it did give them time to thank their own furry friends for the love and joy they bring to their lives.
"We were just having a really great time, but also appreciating that we have these companions in our lives," said Nathan Bergonia also attending with his Boy Scout Troup. "I love seeing everyone come together and do this as a community."
Those that organized today's event said they hope this message reaches everyone in the community, and beyond.
"It's about making peace with Gods earth and caring for Gods good earth and that's something for all of us," Childress said.
For more information on today's event or how to donate to the Nacogdoches Humane Society that organizes and hosts various events throughout the year just visit: https://www.facebook.com/Humane-Society-of-Nacogdoches-County-117625068336995/