Just a few hours after the Reverend John Stephens had become Coadjutor Bishop-elect of the Diocese of New Westminster, he, with Associate Priest, the Reverend Liz Ruder Celiz and Organist Director of Music, Michael Dirk were outside the Lychgate at St. John's, Shaughnessy, Celebrating a Blessing of the Animals in honour of St. Francis Day, October 4.
Many in our diocese are familiar with the popularity of these events. There are some who see Animal Blessings as a ministry priority and a way to introduce the Church to folks who may not have had any exposure to Christian worship, Anglican or other. And there are are others who are lukewarm to the idea and of course there are also some who are opposed. However, one thing is for sure, Animal Blessings are fun, they engage both the churched and unchurched at an entirely different level and supply some great photo ops.
On Sunday, October 4, 2020, 3pm, there were about 20 people gathered with their pets for a blessing at SJS. Organist and Director of Music, Michael Dirk played animal themed tunes and was resplendent in a pair of "dog-bone" design deck shoes. Following a brief liturgy and the offering of prayers, Reverends Stephens and Ruder Celiz moved the 40 feet to the west to be under the roof that covers the north entrance to the church. Pets and their people then lined up to the east, physically distancing awaiting a blessing. After the blessing the dogs (the majority of pets present were dogs) received a treat.
There was a kitten and a chicken at the Blessing as well.
Also present were a camera operator from Global News and a Canadian Press photographer.