photo: Susan Petroni
“Welcome each creature of life here gathered,” is how Rev. Kathleen Hepler started her service Sunday afternoon outside of First Parish Framingham Unitarian Universalist.
Attendees could be heard barking during the service. This was a different type of service for Hepler. It was the parish’s first-ever blessing of the animals.
“We are here to honor the ways that animals make us better people, how they bless us,” she said to a gathering of pet owners in the courtyard of the parish. “We are here to ask blessings on every animal here and we are here to name those we have loved and lost. May the world be more conscious and tender because of our time together.”
The reverend is an animal lover. She blessed her own dog Luke, yesterday. “I kiss him every day,”she told the audience. However, she was not the organizer of yesterday’s event. That honor goes to a quartet of ladies: Lucille Riddle, Carol Lawton, Kathleen Ellen Cormier and Ronnie DiComo.
Riddle said she had attended a blessing of the animals about a year ago and wanted to do something at her own parish.
“Kathleen was open to the idea,” Riddle said. “She told me you plan it, and I’ll do it.”
Riddle attended yesterday’s blessing with her dog Crickett. Margaret Krell attended with her dog Toby. In fact, there were there Toby’s in attendance. DiComo attended the event with her golden retriever Maya, who immediately made a friend with another dog owner’s daughter, Eliza Lewis. The two played in the grass during parts of the outdoors service.
During the service, the reverend blessed each dog individually. (Parts of the service are included in the accompanied video by Framingham Patch.)
“Each of you bless your animals every day and are blessed by them,” said Helper. “This is where the true blessing of the animals is The words given by me this day are symbols of the ministry you give and the ministry you receive.”
The organizers of the service each did a reading. Attendees also sang, but changed a few words … “For all that dwell below the skies Let songs of hope and faith arise Let peace, goodwill on earth be sung or barked or howled by every tongue.”
During the service, individuals were invited to drop a pebble into a bowl of water and say a few words about a beloved pet they had lost. At the end of the service, each pet owner received a certificate that their pet was blessed.
“I think this may become an annual event,” concluded the reverend.
video: Susan Petroni
Our thanks to Framingham Patch editor Susan Petroni for contributing this piece.