God's Gentle Love

North Texas Catholic
(Oct 10, 2023) Local

The entire student body, the teachers, and parents at St. Andrew Catholic School came together for a blessing of the pets conducted by Deacon Kevin Bagley on October 4, 2023 - the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

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FORT WORTH — Hundreds of pets emerged from their warm homes in the past week to be blessed at parishes and schools across the diocese.

Deacon Kevin Bagley of St. Andrew Parish in Fort Worth administered the blessing for the pets of St. Andrew Catholic School’s 650 students on St. Francis’ feast day, October 4.

“We had the opportunity to pray together, intercede to God, and thank God for the gift of these pets,” Dcn. Bagley described.

Many of the pre-K to eighth-grade students held up pictures of their beloved creatures and waved them around proudly to receive a sprinkle of holy water as Dcn. Bagley walked about the school’s soccer field.

Students wave pictures of their pets that they brought printed out for the school's blessing of the pets on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. (NTC/ Juan Guajardo)

His favorite part of these blessings, he said, is “seeing the love that kids have for their pets, knowing that love is being returned because the gift God gives us with these animals is that they are here to help us, to be companions along the way.”

Growing up in a military family, Dcn. Bagley didn’t have pets, but in his adulthood, he’s had the pleasure of caring for cocker spaniels, a shi tzu, and an Aussie mix.

Pets, he affirmed, help us remember that “God gave us so many things in this world to help us. We’re not abandoned, we’re not strangers, we’re not alone… [Pets] love us unconditionally. That’s a hint of how much God loves us — that no matter what we do, He will still love us immeasurably. We can see that in our pets.”

A student holds a picture of his family vizsla that he prepared for the school's blessing of the pets. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

Understanding that God is visible in nature and all things, Dcn. Bagley stressed, is why we look to St. Francis as a patron saint of the animals.

“In Scripture, Jesus says that the birds of the air have no place to live, and yet God knows each and every one of them and cares for each and every one of them.”

And like the big and fluffy great Pyrenees pup he spotted attending the school’s pet blessing, Dcn. Bagley remarked that on St. Francis’s feast day, one can be reminded of “God’s love for us — soft and gentle.”

Deacon Bagley poses with a veteran and his great Pyrenees he brought to the blessing. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

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