St. Francis' Day: Animals as Blessings

On St. Francis’ Day, many Episcopal churches open their doors to animals of every kind. Fuzzy, furry, feathered and scaled. Slimy, soft, cuddly and jumpy; people and their animal companions come to church on that day for the animals to be blessed. A beautiful gesture to be sure, and in my mind it is also a way for someone to say, “this animal should be blessed because it has been a blessing in my life.”

Throughout the world, animals can provide so much to the people whose lives they touch. Pets and animal companions can comfort, assist, inspire and even share love. But there is a herd of other ways animals can change the lives of humans!

In many of the countries where Episcopal Relief & Development has program partners, an important part of our work involves animals. These animals bring blessings into the lives of people every day.  Chickens, pigs and goats can provide sources of food and income for families. Even the manure can help fertilize gardens. Though goats seem to be very popular, my favorite animal that blesses people’s lives is the donkey.

In northern Ghana, women work with donkeys to plow fields and pack goods to market. They are sturdy animals, and cheaper and easier to manage than oxen. It is especially women farmers who are finding their lives changed by the presence of a donkey. When a woman is done plowing and has less need for the donkey, she can earn money by renting it to another farmer, sharing the donkey’s blessing of increased harvests and saved time.

This St. Francis’ Day, please consider how your life and the lives of people you know and love have been blessed by their animals ­– then please consider blessing someone else by bringing a goat, a pig or even a donkey into their life.

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   Sean McConnell is Director of Engagement for Episcopal Relief & Development.    

 

Images: Photos of animals and program participants from many different countries. 


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