By: Jo Siedlecka
A large blue parrot, a flame-bellied frog, tortoises and guinea pigs were among animals brought to a special Pet Blessing service in north London on Sunday, the feast of St Francis of Assisi.
There were also more than a dozen dogs, cats, and several guinea pigs at the celebration, held in the garden of Our Lady Help of Christians church in Kentish Town.
Several people also brought photos of their pets. A display of pictures about St Francis, by children from St Patrick’s primary school was on show, and there was a stall selling Fairtrade goods. Frances Novillo lead the music.
Beginning the service, parish priest Fr Tom Forde said: “Loving Father we praise you and thank you for making animals part of your wonderful creation. Help us and all people to be kind to animals. Touch the hearts of all with your love and increase our respect for all your creation.”
The afternoon was just one of the weekend’s events organised by the parish Climate Change group, for the feast of St Francis and the World Day of Prayer for the Environment.
On the Friday, Mark Dowd, from Operation Noah gave a talk on why climate change is such an important issue for Christians. “We are called by Jesus to have concern for the poor,” he said. Global warming is already causing huge poverty and threatening the lives of many millions of people around the world. Pope Benedict and the Archbishop of Canterbury have both appealed for Christians to do all they can to stop the crisis developing further.
Dowd suggested each person could make changes in their own lives to reduce their carbon footprint, through recycling, conserving power and water, and flying less. He suggested Christian communities could work together on projects such as car pooling; changing to green energy sources, projects such as parish gardens and lobbying government to make changes nationally.
Columban lay missionary Ellen Teague spoke at every Mass during the weekend. She described her first-hand experience of the impact of global warming on communities in Africa that were seeing farmland turning into desert. She invited parishioners to attend Operation Noah's annual lecture this year by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams on: 'The Climate Crisis: the Christian Response' at Southwark Cathedral at 7pm on 13 October. She also urged everyone to take part in The Wave on 5 December. The day will begin at 11am with a prayer service at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster led by Dr Rowan Williams, and Archbishop Vincent Nichols. Following that, the congregation will join thousands of others on a march through Westminster.
For more information about these events see: www.operationnoah.org/