Story and photos by D. J. Estopinal
Many thousands of years ago, when we were a primitive people, it was learned that it was to our advantage to have a pet dog. A dog was not a luxury but a necessity for protection and hunting. A close bond was made between those dogs and the men of that time.
Today, many of us have pets. However, our pets today are more varied. Not only do we use some of our pets for protection and to warn us of perceived danger but we shower our love onto our pets. In response to our love for our pets, our pets form a very close bond, show devotion to and unconditionally love us. Our pets become a very real member of our family. A loss of a pet is a very traumatic event to our family. We grieve, when we lose a pet, just as if we had lost a member of our family, because we have.
For more than twenty (20) years, Good Shepherd Church, located at 5122 West Esplanade Ave., Metairie, La., has held the “Blessing of the Animals” once a year, usually during the month of October. The Blessing of the Animals has also been open to everyone, no matter what their faith is or what type of animal their pet is.
In the Bible, it says, go ye into all the world and preach the good news to ALL creation. St. Francis of Assisi took this bible verse very literally. He went throughout the country preaching and ministering to all of the animals of every kind.
Good Shepherd Church conducts the Blessing of the Animals out of respect for St. Francis of Assisi and because we consider our pets as a family member.
Even the 1970’s, the singing group, “The Carpenters” had a big hit song named, “Bless the Beast and the Children”.
According to our pastor, The Rev. Randall Graf, we have always had good weather while conducting the Blessing of the Animals service outside, in front of our sanctuary building. It appears that our Lord looks down upon us with favor every year and does not let it rain upon our Blessing of the Animals ceremony.
This year, Good Shepherd Church held its Blessing of the Animals on Saturday, October 6, 2018. The temperature was a little warm but again there was no rain.
Pastor Graf blessed many pet dogs, two (2) pet rabbits, one (1) pet Cat named “Bailey” and a pet Bearded Dragon. You read correct, a pet Bearded Dragon, see the photos below.
While the pastor was blessing the above pets, several times I thought I observed a small animal peaking out of his shirt pocket. Then I realized that the small animal that kept peaking out of Rev. Graf’s pocket had to be “Jasper The Church Mouse”. Every time I observed Jasper peak out of the pastor's shirt pocket, I attempted to get a picture of him. Jasper was just too fast for me in ducking back into Pastor Graf’s shirt pocket. I asked Pastor Graf if, in fact, that was “Jasper the Church Mouse” in his shirt pocket? Rev. Graf advised me, “He would neither confirm nor deny that the animal I kept seeing peak out of his shirt pocket was “Jasper The Church Mouse”. Maybe I will have better luck next year in taking a photograph of “Jasper The Church Mouse”!
Rev. Graf stated to me that the “Blessing of the Animals” is one of his most enjoyable services that he conducts.
Below you will find photographs that I took of this years Blessing of the Animals. If you would like a copy of any of the photographs, contact Rev. Randall Graf. For more information check, WWW.GSCMet.Com or telephone Pastor Graf at the church at (504) 454-0764.