A Publication of
Catholic Concern for Animals
Selections From The Ark
Number 205 - Spring 2007
SOME OF THE 2006 ANIMAL BLESSING SERVICES (ABS)
Arundel Cathedral, Sussex
Our fourth service was once again very well attended. It was good to see so many
children with their pets. The Mayor and Mayoress of Arundel with their dog Pele
were welcomed, as were the Mayor and Mayoress of Littlehampton, and the Arundel
Chief Town Crier with her dog Daisy.
Once again this Catholic cathedral was full of wagging tails and small creatures
in baskets. Our largest guest was a Great Dane who took up a whole pew. The
cathedral choir was once again with us, plus our singer-song writer, Gloria
Macari. Clergy included the Revd Tim Thorp (Anglican) and Pastor Tout (Baptist).
In his address, the Cathedral Dean Fr Tim Madeley, mentioned St Philip Howard,
patron and martyr, buried and enshrined in the cathedral. He suffered for his
faith, spending 10 years in the Tower of London with his faithful dog as
companion, before his death in 1595. The dog had the role of go-between with his
master and other prisoners, most notably the saintly priest Robert Southwell.
Although these two great men never met, Philip’s dog helped them to deepen their
friendship and exchange encouragement in each other's plight.
My thanks go to friend and ‘right-hand man’ Adele Mathieu from Lancing who made
a great poster and dealt with the local radio. Thanks also to the editors of the
local newspapers, who gave us good coverage, and Monica and David Clifton –
without whom I would never have got all the washing-up done!
St John Vianney Church, Wantage
Four free-range chickens joined in the chorus at our annual ABS. Josie Harrison,
10, and her 7-year-old brother Charlie brought their pet chickens to join with
rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, dogs and cats to the popular service. The
gathering of animals was led by Pollyanne, the donkey from Island Farm Donkey
Rescue, and all were blessed by the parish priest, Canon Peter Turbitt.
In the address, Anglican lay reader Jill Smith from Stanford in the Vale, who
was accompanied to the service by her help-dog Kira, gave a moving account of
the part that Kira and other animals play in her life. She stressed the
importance and need for a responsible attitude towards animals and nature. Said
Canon Peter, ‘Despite the awful weather, we were pleased that so many people
braved the rain to come and give thanks for animals and the created world. In
this busy world of today, animals mean a lot to so many people.’
St Peter in Chains, Doncaster
This was a beautiful experience. Fr O’Reilly greeted each animal and owner at
the church door and wrote down the animals’ names, speaking kindly to them.
There were all kinds of animals and birds, and we estimated between 35-45
people. One old lady came on her own, walking with two sticks. She was so
overwhelmed at the sight, there were tears in her eyes. The animals (and their
people) were very well-behaved and quiet, with the exception of one little
black-and-white dog who kept joining in – at the end of the service, Fr O’Reilly
thanked him for his assistance!
Father asked for prayers for farm animals and all animals in need of help. He
blessed all the animals present and asked blessings on sick ones not present. He
spoke of the death of little companions and the effect on the family. It was a
really good and moving experience.
P.S. Is this the first ABS in a Catholic church in the North of England?
St Peters, Roath, Cardiff
Another lovely service. We had 23dogs and one guinea pig, with their owners, of
course. You can see lots of the photographs on the parish website (events page):
Park Gate, Southampton, Hampshire
These are always happy and joyful occasions. This year we used relevant hymns
from the regular hymn book, which simplified the service and gave others the
opportunity to have a say in what should be sung.
An attempt was made to encourage the presbytery cat to participate, but he took
one look at the dogs and legged it to safety! We do encourage people to bring
photographs of animals that would be either too stressed or too stroppy to
attend, so the blessing is applied to them in that way.
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The Ark Number 205 - Spring 2007
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