Father Tom Krell blesses Echo Oct. 4 at St. David’s Episcopal Church as volunteer Richard Pine reads the St. Francis blessing. The church offered drive-through pet blessings to mark the feast of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals.

Father Tom Krell blesses Echo Oct. 4 at St. David’s Episcopal Church as volunteer Richard Pine reads the St. Francis blessing. The church offered drive-through pet blessings to mark the feast of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Furry friends receive drive-through blessings

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published October 9, 2019

 Pine reads the St. Francis blessing to Spencer.

Pine reads the St. Francis blessing to Spencer.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Milo receives a blessing Oct. 4 from the Very Rev. Chris Yaw and volunteer Richard Pine.

Milo receives a blessing Oct. 4 from the Very Rev. Chris Yaw and volunteer Richard Pine.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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SOUTHFIELD — Tacos and hamburgers aren’t the only things you can get at a drive-through anymore.

To mark the feast of St. Francis Oct. 4, clergy at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 16200 W. 12 Mile Road, hosted a drive-through pet blessing.

People brought their fur babies to receive a blessing, a treat and a prayer card in celebration of the saint, who was known for being kind to animals.

The Very Rev. Chris Yaw said the event is similar to the church’s drive-through Ash Wednesday service, which was started in 2014.

“People (in) this day and age don’t always go to church. They look at church and institutions with some skepticism. Rightfully so. … We don’t have a lot of joiners these days,” Yaw said. “We needed to get out of the church. We looked around and we thought, ‘Well, it’s Ash Wednesday,’ so we started giving out ashes in the driveway.”

The event has grown since then, Yaw said, and last year, over 500 people attended the Ash Wednesday drive-through. Church officials have also extended the drive-through concept to a Good Friday service that includes a blessing.

“There’s some people for whom pets are closer than their relatives, and it means so much to people and to have God’s blessing upon them, so we thought, ‘Why not make that accessible?’” Yaw said.

St. Francis of Assisi was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He is the patron saint of stowaways, Italy, ecology and animals, and a feast is held in his honor each year on Oct. 4, the day after his death.

Yaw said St. Francis was born into a rich family, but he denounced their ways to live among the poor.

“He went to a town called Assisi, which had a broken-down church, and he had a vision from God saying, ‘Rebuild my church.’ So he did that, and he lived off of the scraps he found in the garbage and the charity of others, and before he knew it, other people joined him,” Yaw said.

Yaw said St. Francis was also known for his love and care of animals and creation.

“I think it’s a message of, take care of animals and take care of creation. There is an order in the world, and humans happen to have that wonderful, blessed responsibility of being able to provide and also to help animals,” Yaw said.

While St. Francis is a Catholic saint, all were welcome at the blessing, Yaw said.

Yaw said he hopes the event spread positivity into the community in the midst of many publicized wrongdoings of clergy.

“We definitely want people from all walks of life to know they’re welcome. We carry a lot of baggage,” Yaw said. “That paints everybody with a broad brush, which we know is not true.”

Lathrup Village resident Susan Brooks, who is a nun and a volunteer with St. David’s Episcopal Church, said that throughout her life, she’s raised 16 puppies through Paws with a Cause.

Paws with a Cause is a national nonprofit organization that trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities, according to its website.

Brooks said that as a dog owner, she tries to emulate St. Francis’ care for all animals, great or small.

“I go out and I look now to make sure there’s no squirrels or other little animals running in my yard before I let the Yorkie out. That Yorkie, as my mother would say, would be like a bat out of hell and would probably catch (a squirrel) if I wasn’t watching,” Brooks said.

St. David’s held a pet-friendly church service Oct. 6.

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