Most people consider their pets a blessing. This Saturday you can bring your pets to St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Cuyahoga Falls to be “blessed.”

The service begins on Saturday, October 1, 2016 at 10 a.m. at the side of the church with the handicap entrance.

According to St. Luke’s Pastor, Larry Mackey, the ceremony harkens back to St. Francis of Assisi, one of the most venerated Patron Saints of the Catholic Church. He lived between 1181 and 1226, and is associated with the patronage of animals the natural environment.

It’s common to see images of St. Francis surrounded by a variety of animals. These ceremonies usually fall around his feast day of October 4.

Pastor Mackey has performed these services before at various churches he served in his 36 years of ministry.

He said, “Pets of all kinds are welcome to attend as long as they are either leashed or crated, if necessary.”

Mackey has blessed a wide variety. “Once, in a more rural setting, some 4-H Club kids brought their goats and rabbits to be blessed along with their dogs, cats and turtles.”

“At one point the goats began eating the church’s shrubs!”

Mackey said, “Young children often bring a beloved stuffed animal and ask that it be blessed too. Other people have brought along photos of their pets who cannot attend and others have submitted their pet's name, or names, to be mentioned in the prayers.”

“I’ve seen animals as small as a 3-pound Maltese to as large as a 120-pound American Bulldog. We’ve had dogs of many different breeds and sizes, from puppies to senior dogs as well as cats and even a bright blue McCaw.”

“The brief Animal Blessing Service allows people to mention a beloved pet and how much it means to them in their daily lives. It acknowledges that animals are a gift from God to share our lives.”

The ceremony will go on rain or shine. Cider, coffee and donuts will be served in the church social hall after the blessing. Bowls of water and assorted treats will also be available for our four-legged friends.

Now retired, Pastor Mackey first served in Cuyahoga Falls at Christ Lutheran Church on Bailey Road from 1980-1985. That site is now the office of the Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

He came to St. Luke's in August serving as Interim Pastor while the congregation begins their search for a new full-time pastor.