ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM-TV) – Local Episcopal Churches are joining together this coming Monday to hold a Blessing of the Animals service at the SPCA in Chemung County. The event is taking place on St. Francis’ feast day.

The following is more details about this upcoming service;

On Monday, October 4, 2021, the Episcopal Churches of Chemung County (ECCC) in Northeastern Pennsylvania will have a special Blessing of the Animals service. The public is cordially invited to come, bring their pets, and actively take part. This service will begin at 5:30 pm at the Chemung County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) office. The address is 2435 State Route 352 in Elmira.

This year’s Blessing of the Animals service is a collaborative effort from the partnership shared between St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Horseheads, NY; Grace Episcopal Church in Elmira, NY; Immanuel Episcopal Church in Elmira, NY; and the Chemung County SPCA.

October 4th is the Feast Day of St. Francis. Francis of Assisi (born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone) was born in 1181 and died in 1226. During his life, Francis served as an Italian Catholic friar, deacon, mystic, and preacher of God’s word. He founded several Orders; most notably the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the Custody of the Holy Land. After his death, Francis was venerated by the Catholic Church because of his service to and for God’s people.

Francis remains one of the most venerated religious figures in Christianity. He is honored with a Lesser Festival in the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Episcopal Church USA, the Old Catholic Churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and other churches and religious communities every year on October 4th.

Francis is the patron of animals, ecology, and merchants. In recent years, the Episcopal Church and other Protestant churches have joined the Catholic Church in observing the tradition of blessing animals on or near Francis’ feast day annually on October 4th.

The local Blessing of the Animals service will be low-key and brief, but also meaningful. Those planning to attend this year’s event should bring their own lawn chair and should bring their pets either leashed or caged for a blessing. Attendees may, if they prefer, bring a photo of their pet instead for a blessing. While this event is free, attendees should consider bringing a donation for the Chemung County SCPA. At this time, wet & dry food, clay litter, and cash are on the top of their needs list.

In case of rainy weather, the Blessing of the Animals service will be held inside in a rather large gathering room. If the event takes place indoors, masks will be required. All congregants from area churches and anyone who considers themselves pet lovers will be warmly welcomed.

The Reverend Jenny Scott-Jones ~ Grace Episcopal Church in Elmira

Anyone with questions about the special October 4th service can email Reverend Scott-Jones in advance at: Jenny@graceelmira.org.