By Mary O’KEEFE
On Sunday several local churches held Blessing of the Animals ceremonies. The event always takes place on a Sunday near Oct. 3, the date Francis of Assisi, later St. Francis, died. Francis is the patron saint of ecology.
At the ceremony at St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church, Vicar Bryan Jones included the history of St. Francis in his sermon. He told parishioners, and their pets, that although St. Francis is known as the patron saint of ecology and is well known of his love and respect for the animals of the Earth, his devotion went beyond that.
“He was a diplomat,” Jones said.
He explained that St. Francis’ diplomacy not only extended to humans but to animals as well.
“There is a story of a wolf who terrorized a village [of Gubbio],” Jones said. Some of those who lived in the village attempted to kill the wolf, but most did not survive the fight. Francis was in the village at the time and said he would go and meet the wolf. The story goes that Francis spoke to the wolf and from then on the village was safe.
“He called him Brother Wolf,” Jones said. “Everyone was a brother [and sister] to Francis, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon.”
Francis’ “Canticle of The Creatures/Brother Sun” was an example of how he viewed the world around him, that all were God’s creations, from the Earth’s resources to the animals.
At Sunday’s ceremony at St. Luke’s, Jones blessed birds, cats and dogs. Among the pets was a little dog that had been ruthlessly abandoned and, if it had not been for the thoughtful actions of one parishioner and his accepting family, this little one’s future would not be as bright.
“I was working in the Inglewood area and I was coming back home,” said Gabe Ynda of his eventful trip home a little over a month ago. “I was heading west on the 105 [freeway] and I was going to head back on the 405 [freeway] to go home from work. It was rush hour so there was a lot of traffic. I was at the light waiting to get onto the 405, and I wasn’t paying too much attention as the car in front of me pulled up a little, [but] I saw [what looked like] a little dog that had [been killed on the road]. I pulled up a little more and I see another one. As I was waiting to get on the 405, I saw movement on the right of the [onramp]. I looked over and there she was.”
What he saw was the future member of his family, Gussy, a tiny Shih-Tzu puppy.
“She was trying to scramble up the side wall where the shoulder was. I pulled over, put my hazard lights on … everyone was [quite angry] at me. I stepped over the K-rail, grabbed her and picked her up,” Ynda recalled. He put Gussy in his car and brought her home. “We were having a pool party that night with our Boy Scout troop, so I brought her [to the party] and she has been with us every since.”
The Yndas had another dog at home, Krome, a much bigger dog that was also a rescue.
“[Krome] is a little dog-aggressive, or he used to be,” he said.
Ynda credits his wife Vanessa for working with both dogs to create a loving atmosphere for their new addition.
Ynda’s veterinarian estimates that Gussy was born in early July.
Gussy and Krome were officially blessed on Sunday, but they were actually blessed when the Yndas found them.