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Annual service honors St. Francis of Assisi
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Minister Provincial of the Americas Brother Jude Hill blesses Zoe, a Great Dane owned by the Lee family, during a service in honor of St. Francis of Assisi held at Light of Christ Lutheran Church on Sunday. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Two local congregations came together on Sunday to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi with a blessing of the animals service.

Light of Christ Lutheran Church and St. Francis Episcopal Church welcomed the community to take part in their annual service that is held in honor of St. Francis, a 12th century Christian who founded the Franciscan order and is remembered for his generosity to the poor  and his love for animals and nature.

“St. Francis is our patron saint and we hold this blessing in memory of a saint that is one of the most beloved but least immolated — he gave everything to the poor. He cared and had a love of all creatures, especially animals. There are many legends of St. Francis and animals,” said Rev. Kathie Galicia of St. Francis Episcopal.

Two Episcopal Franciscan brothers came from San Francisco to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis in Turlock. Minister Provincial of the Americas Brother Jude Hill and Brother James Paul helped to bless each of the pets that accompanied their owners at Sunday’s service.

Emma Barba brought her Bichon Frise “Mikey” to be blessed.

“I have great faith God will take care of him,” Barba said. “He’s a sickly dog, but a blessing to our family.”

From the pair of Great Danes to the lone cat, every one of the animals were sprinkled with holy water and blessed on Sunday and then many of the pets took advantage of Light of Christ Lutheran’s large grassy area for a little play time.

“This event is perfect for the community,” said Pastor Sylvia Mueller of Light of Christ Lutheran. “We love the animals. This is one of my favorite services.”

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.