KNOXVILLE, Tenn. At least 200 animals will receive blessings Thursday, Oct. 4 at annual Blessing of the Animals at 8 a.m. on the lawn of The Episcopal School of Knoxville.
In years past, animals ranging from lizards to snakes as well as throngs of cats, dogs and gerbils have been present for the event.
This year, a school-wide pet food collection project accompanied the longstanding tradition at ESK in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. Kindergarten classes have collected bags of dry food for cats and dogs, which they will donate to the FISH hospitality pantries that feed hungry residents Knoxville residents. The project was conducted in partnership with the LAMBS pet ministry at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension.
“St. Francis is often remembered for his vision of human kinship with animals and with all creation, ESK Chaplain Father Josh Hill said. Over the years that memory has been translated into a fun celebration of human companionship with pets, which reminds us of the biblical mandate to care for all creation. But there was more to Francis than loving animals. He was even more focused on God’s vision for human beings.
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For Francis, loving animals and nature is the logical result of becoming the kind of human being who is compassionate, gentle, generous, and aware of the miraculous presence of God in everything. So we bless pets, but our school also collects pet food for those pet owners who struggle to provide food. This is one small way we can strive to be like Francis.”