Growing in love celebrating St. Francis

Growing in love celebrating St. Francis

friars and friends

Friars and guests celebrate the Transitus at the St. Anthony Shrine in Cincinnati. Photo by Fr. Frank Jasper, OFM

Friars from throughout St. John the Baptist Province joyfully marked the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi on and around Oct. 4, inviting others to join them in celebrating the beloved saint who lived his life in imitation of Christ, emphasizing poverty and simplicity, love for the marginalized, care for creation and respect and dignity for all people.

kids with dog

Transfiguration pet blessing photo by Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM

On Oct. 3, approximately 125 people joined the friars at St. Anthony Shrine in Cincinnati for Transitus, or crossing, referring to the “time of passage through death to life.” In an evening of joy, story, song and prayer, the life and enduring influence of Francis was commemorated. The friars in the Detroit area joined the Felician Sisters of North America in Livonia, Mich., to mark Transitus.

Feast day Masses, pet blessings and a parish festival were among the ways the Franciscan family came together for the occasion. During the pet blessing at St. Francis Retreat House in Easton, Pa., Henry Beck smiled at a barking dog, and said, “You’re praying already.”

friar and dogs

Fr. Henry Beck at the pet blessing at St. Francis Retreat House. Photo by Sr. Eileen Connelly, OSU

“Pets are an extension of God’s love for us and an extension of our love for Him,” Henry noted. “That’s why we take time to thank God for them and bless them.”

At Holy Family Parish in Oldenburg, Ind., the friars, parishioners and local community members enjoyed Turtle Soup, delicious turkey and beef dinners, games for both adults and children and raffles and a silent auction in advance of the feast day at the annual Fall Festival, always a joyous and fun-filled event.

During his homily at Mass at St. Francis Seraph Church in Over-the-Rhine on Oct. 2, Al Hirt noted that following in the footsteps of Francis is trying to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, to listen to the Gospel. “The St. Francis that we honor and hopefully try to emulate, first of all in my own mind, begins with brotherhood and sisterhood. Francis saw everyone as brother and sister and he extended that sense of brotherhood and sisterhood to everything in creation. That’s a wonderful vision of his we also need to aspire to.”

2 women and dog

St. Francis Seraph pet blessing photo by Marilyn Wilson

Another aspect of Francis that we must aspire to, added Al, is his absolute desire to be among the outcast, the poor, those who are put aside by society. “Francis made every effort to align himself to everyone who didn’t seem to line up straight, those who didn’t seem to fit in with the established society,” he said. “That’s where Francis’ heart was, and hopefully, we are growing in that kind of love, concern and compassion for those who are outside of the standard.”

Members of the congregation were invited to bring their pets to Mass at St. Francis Seraph, and a blessing of the animals followed the liturgy.

This article first appeared in the SJB News Notes.

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Posted in: Pet Blessing, Prayer, Saint Francis