Pets – close companions who love, share ups and downs and put a smile people’s faces – play an important role in the lives of many.
CAPTION: Chaplain Stephen Briggs with Bob the 54-year-old cockatoo at HMAS Moreton’s Blessing of the Pets. Story by Lieutenant Rebecca Williamson.
Acknowledging this, Navy Chaplain Stephen Briggs, of HMAS Moreton (located at Bulimba on the Brisbane River), has been conducting a ‘blessing of the animals’ service since 2017 to celebrate all living creatures.
The annual blessing provides an opportunity to say thank you for pets and all the joy they bring to people’s lives.
This year, Navy members and the local community came together in the Commander Lachlan King Memorial Garden in HMAS Moreton to witness the blessing of 10 dogs and a 54-year-old cockatoo named Bob.
Chaplain Briggs said the blessing celebrated the Feast of the Patron Saint of Animals St Francis of Assisi, who regarded all animals as his brothers and sisters.
Christians worldwide recognise St Francis’ life’s work because, like him, many have chosen to live with pets to enrich and enhance their lives.
Chaplain Briggs said the service traditionally involved singing hymns related to animals and creation.
“Next, there is a reading from the Bible and prayers of thanksgiving and then the ‘blessing of the animals’ is conducted,” he said.
“As an Anglican priest, I hold the belief that it is only right that we should celebrate all created beings we are provided with and that sustain us.
“Our pets also reduce loneliness, enhance our health and improve our social skills, so there is much to be grateful for.”
Any animal can be blessed and, in the past, this has included dogs, cats, tropical birds, reptiles, rodents, native Australian bees, goldfish, ferrets, hermit crabs, mounted police horses, rabbits, and working animals such as military or police dogs.
CAPTION: Chaplain Stephen Briggs with one of the 10 dogs present at the Blessing of the Pets at HMAS Moreton.