It’s time once again to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis. Traditionally observed October 4 in Catholic Franciscan tradition all over the world, here at Archbishop Walsh Academy/Southern Tier Catholic School it definitely holds special meaning.
But to understand the tradition, we must first understand Francis the man and saint, his life, and his teachings. St. Francis, patron saint of animals and the environment, lived during the 12th century. (One could say he was the first and ultimate Earth Day supporter). His mission was simple: loving and communing with nature. Faith tradition states that St. Francis at God’s behest tamed the Wolf of Gubbio, which had long terrorized the city.
The day honors his connection with wildlife and pets. But it’s not so much about honoring his greatness, but rather observing and reflecting on the path of peace, reverence and appreciation for nature, and support for the impoverished.
So How Can We Celebrate the Feast of St. Francis?
Well, we have one tradition, in particular, we’re excited to continue here at our local Catholic school this year.
The Blessing of the Pets at Walsh/STCS
We look forward to it every year as we get back to school. Students, staff and even community members can bring their pets on Tuesday, October 4 to Walsh/STCS (208 North 24th Street, Olean, NY) to be blessed by a local priest.
We typically begin this annual rite at the end of the school day, around 2:45 pm, so parents/guardians coming to collect their children can bring their cats, dogs and other pets to participate.
Even Woody the Turtle – our school’s unofficial mascot that has been on campus for many years – “comes out of his shell,” so to speak, for a blessing.
Other Ways to Celebrate and Honor St. Francis
Of course, if you can’t make it to the Blessing of the Pets, there are many other ways to honor St. Francis on his Feast Day – or any other time of the year.
Adopting a Stray
Everyone needs a good home. And that includes our furry, scaly, shelled and swimmy friends. Adopting an animal from your local animal shelter can be a great way of honoring St. Francis. Give an animal in need the forever home they deserve.
Donating to a Shelter
Can’t take in a new pet? At least help your local shelter to do its job the best it can. Donations can include blankets, animal food, litter, food bowls or anything else you can offer! (Cash always helps, of course.) A little goes a long way for animals in need.
Loving Your Own Pet More Fully
So many of us love our pets as members of the family. But we could always do more to make sure they’re better loved and cared for. Take your dog for a walk or get them their favorite treat. Give your goldfish a new fish tank castle. In their spirit, they know they’re loved and appreciated!
Volunteer, Advocate & Educate Your Community
If you don’t have the ability to adopt a new animal or donate, then here are some ways you still can join in on the celebration:
- Head down to a shelter and volunteer to give the animals love and attention as they await adoption. Some of them have been there for YEARS, with little hope for a brighter future. But you can still give them the love they deserve even if you can’t bring them home (yet).
- Spreading information about endangered or abused animals is a great way to advocate. Find some honest and effective solutions for animal mistreatment.
- Bring spare blankets, nonperishable food items and other donations to your local Catholic parish. Even if you may not directly be helping animals or nature, giving to those less fortunate is a perfect way to honor St. Francis – and to be a helpful global citizen.
Walsh/STCS Honors Great Causes Year-Round
It’s far from just the Feast of St. Francis. Good thing, the Catholic faith and our faith-based tradition here at Walsh/STCS offers no shortage of opportunities to honor great causes. Important as it is for our students to perform well in the classroom, their future college and career success also depends on playing an active role in the communities we call home – and beyond.
(And there’s always a special saint’s day, festival or other celebration to keep us perpetually involved in growing good.)
We embody the giving spirit here. Come join the Walsh/STCS family and be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Book a tour today!