On the feast of St Francis of Assisi (October 4) parish priest Fr Matthew d’Hereaux of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Carapichaima invited parishioners and their pets to gather for an outdoor celebration of the Eucharist.
Parishioners from the cluster of Carapichaima/Chaguanas/Couva also attended, bringing with them their pet dogs, hamsters, turtles, parrots and rabbits to be blessed.
In his homily, Fr d’Hereaux stressed the importance of being witnesses to God’s word by caring for our environment and the animals with whom we share our world. He referenced Genesis 1:20–26 to remind us that animals are also God’s creation, and Jonah 1–2 which speaks of animals protecting the faithful.
Christian stewardship calls us to be witnesses to God’s word by turning away from animal cruelty said Fr d’Hereaux, and he advised those gathered that the responsibility extends further as a Christian community: “We have a duty to care for and protect our environment as we face an ecological and moral crisis.”
He also noted Pope Francis’ appeal in Laudato Si (Care for Our Common Home) to environmental stewardship which challenges Christians to think twice about littering. Fr d’Hereaux asked that a tree be planted in commemoration of the Mass.
A special blessing was said over the pets, which were surprisingly well-behaved throughout the evening.
I enjoyed worshipping with my pet dogs, Chester and Gemma. It was quite evident that my fellow parishioners felt the same since we consider our pets like family and being able to worship with them was actually a blessing.
Fr d’Hereaux’s appeal for us to change our lifestyle and appreciate the gift of creation continues to resonate within me. He is truly leading by example through the special care he gives to his dog Rosie – who never misses a parish lime.
Father has promised to make this Mass annual. I suspect that the congregation will include even more pets next year as this was truly a memorable experience. – Karima Pragg