NEWBERRY — As reverend at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in the mid 1970s, Fred Byrd felt the need to recognize the bond between humans and animals and also to remember St. Francis of Assisi for his love of all God’s creatures.
This need compelled Byrd to begin The Blessing of the Animals service to give Newberry’s community an opportunity to bring their animals before God.
To honor the Feast Day of St. Francis on Oct. 4, St. Luke’s holds the service every year on or near the second Sunday in October. On Oct. 13, St. Luke’s continued this tradition with their annual service on the lawn.
The service was performed by the current reverend, Elizabeth Morgan with the assistance of Byrd. Together they recognized the unique bond formed between an individual and their pet and gave the owners a chance to bring their pet forward for a blessing.
The service consisted of a scripture reading of Psalm 148, the recitation of the Prayer of St. Francis, a prayer of remembrance, concluding with the blessing of the animals.
According to Morgan, there have been many farm animals brought forth for blessings in the past, but this year gave rise to cats and dogs of all different breeds, colors and sizes.
The service brings together individuals of many different denominations, some who were experiencing the service for the first time, and some who had attended in the past.
June Lominack, brought her dogs Zoey and Abigail to be blessed in the service.
“I’ve been coming since it first started, with different dogs, of course. I think it’s a great opportunity to express how much we love our pets and the Psalm reading each year really speaks to me.” Lominack said.
Lorraine Bradley, president of the Newberry County Humane Society, has been attending the service for five years and said she brings her dog, Misty, because of the opportunity the service offers to bring animals to God.
“I heard about it through the shelter and thought it would be a good opportunity to be around other people with a passion and love for animals,” Bradley said. “It’s a great way to thank God for our pets.”
Katie is a Junior at Newberry College and is studying to obtain her degree in communications.