St. Stephen's Welcomes Pets for Blessing of the Animals

Pet owners throughout Menifee will have a special opportunity for their special creatures Sunday whe...

Pet owners throughout Menifee will have a special opportunity for their special creatures Sunday when St. Stephen's Episcopal Church holds a Blessing of the Animals at its 9 a.m. church service.

Following a tradition that dates back to St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, pets of all kinds will be individually blessed by Father Clarke Prescott. People of all denominations are invited to bring their animals to be blessed -- no matter what kind of animals they might be.

"All animals are God's creatures," Fr. Prescott said. "This is a chance for folks to bring their animals to be blessed. We believe in recognizing all God's creatures as part of a larger family."

Fr. Prescott says that although the tradition dates back hundreds of years, it has become popular again in the last 20 years or so. As he has done in each of the last several years, Fr. Prescott will welcome worshippers to come forward with their pets.

In the past, children have brought to him rabbits, turtles and goldfish. Senior citizens whose cat or dog is the only "relative" they have left bring that pet for a blessing.

Some churches hold a special service for this blessing outside after church services. Fr. Prescott said he believes the animals deserve the same exact blessings as the owners who bring them into the sanctuary.

"I allow people to have their pets sit next to them if they wish," he said. "If anything happens, we just press on, the same as you would if a baby is crying in church. I've had dogs woof during my sermon. One time when I was serving in Riverside, someone came down the aisle with a horse and a man was walking behind the horse with a snow shovel."

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church is located at 26704 Murrieta Road in Menifee. All are welcome to bring their pets for this annual service.


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