OGDEN — If a pet or other animal in your life needs a little divine intervention, the local Episcopal Church has got you covered.
But if you’re looking for someplace to show off your wiener dog’s new hot-dog-bun Halloween costume? Keep looking.
The annual Blessing of the Animals is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 2374 Grant Ave., Ogden. Those with pets in need of protection or other spiritual favors are invited to bring them to the southeast lawn of the church that morning, where the Rev. Vanessa Cato, rector of the church, will pronounce individual blessings on each creature, big or small.
“You just bring an animal — a cat in a little carrier, or a dog on a lead, or a mouse in a box — and I will bless that animal,” Cato said. “And if, say, your dog is about to have surgery, I’ll include something about that as well.”
The Blessing of the Animals has been a tradition at the downtown church for at least two decades. Organizers had planned on following the blessing with a relatively newer tradition — a Halloween costume contest for pets — but organizers say there simply weren’t enough entries this year.
They say they’ll try again next October.
Nevertheless, the blessing ceremony will go on as planned.
The annual Blessing of the Animals is held at many Christian churches — traditionally around Oct. 4, which is celebrated as the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. There are a number of legends surrounding St. Francis, many of them involving animals, according to Cato. It was believed the saint could actually speak to them.
“St. Francis did lots of other things, but people tend to remember him most for his oneness with creation and his friendship with the animals,” Cato said. “So this is sort of part of our modern tradition, a time when we think about creation and the whole of God’s world and the part that animals play in it.”
Cato said dogs have been the recipients of most of her blessings, although she has blessed a parrot or two in her time.
“But I’m quite happy to bless well-behaved cows and chickens as well,” she said.
And indeed, one of the kids at church asked Cato if she would be willing to bless a tarantula.
“I told him, ‘As long as it stays in its box,’” she said. “The animals have to be well-behaved, and they mustn’t be dangerous.”
Marie Kawaguchi, a member of the Episcopal church who helps lead the fundraising committee, said in addition to the blessing ceremony the church will also offer items like pet sweaters for sale, as well as animal treats. Proceeds will be used to support the church.
Kawaguchi said the church is extremely pet-friendly — “Whenever you come to church, you’re bound to see one of us with a dog tagging along,” she explains — and she encourages anyone with an animal that they love to bring it to the church on Saturday morning.
“Why? Because for my belief, our pets become our children,” Kawaguchi said. “And why would you not want to bless your children?”