Under a warm, Florida fall sun, our furry, finned, and feathered friends and their owners joined us here on the grounds of the Franciscan Center early last Friday evening, October 2, 2020.

Tails wag and kittens purr each year as we host an Annual Blessing to honor the Feast of Saint Francis on October 4, and this year was no exception. Sister Cathy Cahill, OSF, offered us a blessing and introduced a brief prayer service, and Fr. Michael Cooper, S.J., Assistant Professor at Saint Leo University blessed dozens of dogs, cats, and two horses with the Mounted Unit from the Tampa Police Department. This year, Father Cooper even blessed a bunny and a tortoise.

We honor the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi to celebrate St. Francis’s understanding of the kinship shared by humans with all creatures by virtue of having the same creator, God. St. Francis, who founded the Franciscan Order, loved and honored animals. It’s said that St. Francis even preached to the birds about their duty to praise God.

While specific customs about blessing animals vary from place to place, a common feature is that prayers are offered not only for the animals themselves but also for the people who care for them. This year, we also honored the CDC guidelines with respect to COVID-19 by requiring masks and holding the entire event outside.

We are honored to partner with the Humane Society Tampa Bay for the blessing and hope to continue to do so in the years to come.  For a list of their most critical needs, please check out their website.

On Friday we also unveiled our own “Little Free Library” out in front of The Center. So if you’re in the neighborhood and you’d like a book, help yourself. And if you’d like to leave a book, feel free to drop it off.

Check out the pictures below feel free to share them on your social media pages, and we hope to see you next year.