Wilson College hosted the annual Blessing of the Animals service on Apr. 25 with Chaplain Derek Wadlington and Park Avenue Methodist Church Pastor Rachel Kelly Wong officiating.
The modern idea of the Blessing of the Animals dates back about 800 years to St. Francis of Assisi who originated the tradition. Francis, a Catholic Saint, shared his idea that everyone is blessed in the eyes of God. During his ministry, he became a big advocate for animals and the environment. Every year on Oct. 4, many people bless their animals on the Feast Day of Assisi.
The Blessing of the Animals has been an annual event in the spring at Wilson for 20 years, according to Chaplain Wadlington.
Having a Blessing of the Animals is very meaningful to Wilson.
“By taking time to have a Blessing of the Animals service, we pause to acknowledge the responsibility we have as caretakers of creation, to honor the bond we have with animals, and the blessing these animals give us,” Chaplain Wadlington explained.
Wilson’s students appreciate and see the importance of having the Blessing of the Animals as well.
“I think it’s important for Wilson to have this event because animals are such a huge part of our college. It is only right to have a day to thank all the animals/pets for the love and lessons they give us everyday,” Aurora Ortiz ‘18 commented.
During the event, many animals were blessed including cats, dogs, lizards, guinea pigs, turtles, hamsters, and mice.
“My favorite part about the Blessing of the Animals is seeing how many people bring their pets. I think it’s amazing that we have a chapel service devoted just to our pets and that students, faculty and staff take time to bring their pets to it, “Ortiz added.
It is important to note that blessing the animal does not mean baptizing them. When an animal is blessed, it is giving thanks to the God for the blessing that animals are to their owners and everyone that they come in contact with.
Chaplain Wadlington also included a moment of remembrance during the service for those animals that are no longer with us.
“Pets are family members. They give us emotional support, companionship, and a sense of purpose. When a pet dies, we grieve just as when a human dies,” Wadlington remarked.
Next year, the goal is to have the Blessing of the Animals in the fall to coincide with the Feast Day of Assisi.