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I received this message online from a fellow minister/animal chaplain and I really loved what she had to say about her church’s progressive support of pet owners. I’d love to hear from anyone who has incorporated animals into their church service/day-to-day spirituality, etc. It’s a burgeoning field with myriad definitions. My focus is helping people prepare for, cope with and move on after pet loss. Others infuse their chaplaincy with animal communication and/or energy healing. What do you think animal chaplains should do? Please feel free to add your comments. —Sid

Dear Sid,

I have been the pastor of the Marina United Methodist Church (my fifth congregation) for the past six years, and as a new ritual in this small congregation we had the first blessing of our pets service two years ago. We pray for our pets (also the departed ones) during our Sunday worship and we include them in our monthly newsletter in the prayer section, too.

I increasingly feel the need to create other blessings and rituals for our pets and their people exactly at a time of sickness or death and grief. Again, I can’t wait to read your book.

I have a 1-year-old cat, Bunny Muffin, the love of my life. She will be spayed tomorrow, and I think that there should be a ritual or blessing for occasions like that both for the pet and the pet parent.

I think that churches and pastors need to start to treat pet issues as family issues and acknowledge the milestones in the life of our pets.
I am leaving my church in June to work on—and hopefully finish—my Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree and am seriously considering  changing the current topic of my dissertation to pet-related issues.

Blessings and best wishes,

Aniko Olah

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