Mumbai Church Blesses Pets, Attracts Non-Christians

Published 16 October 2017  |  
(Credit: Father Joe D'Souza.)
Father Joe D' Souza, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Mumbai, blesses animals in his church on Oct. 8.

In an attempt to attract people of different faiths, Catholic Church in Mumbai on Oct. 8 had organized a blessing time for pets in association with the feast of St Francis of Assisi. Many non-Christians have endorsed the blessing of the animals, said Fr Joe D' Souza, a priest of St John the Evangelist Church.

"People from all faiths are welcome. Many people of other religions bring their animals for the blessing," said D' Souza, according to Crux.

"There were 8 non-Christian families present, belonging to the Parsi and Hindu faiths," he added.

D' Souza blessed about 80 pets, which included dozens of dogs, a turtle, an eagle, two barn owls, two cockatoos, and a Persian cat. He also blessed several neighborhood street dogs.

He claimed the love for animals go beyond all religious barriers.

"Non-Christians like the special ceremony," said D' Souza.

"They tell me that this blessing represents a bit the beauty of the Catholic Church, which not only allows animals into a sacred place, but also blesses them. This love for other creatures is a way of saying that they too are created by God," he added.

The blessing of animals is associated with the feast of St Francis that is celebrated every year on Oct. 4.

Now, the tradition is also practiced by churches around the world, even if they don't come under Franciscan order.

This year, D'Souza held the celebration on Oct. 8 since it was weekend, letting more people to attend.

"Father, thank you for the beauty of your creation," D'Souza prayed.

"Only those who have pets know their value and how you treasure them and how they return your love," he added.

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