First Pet Service in Wakefield Cathedral for St Francis

Wakefield Pet Service captivates a canine congregation!

Canon Tony blessing one of the dogs at the pet serviceWakefield Cathedral hosted its first ever Pet Service on the Feast of St Francis of Assisi this Sunday, attracting a congregation dominated by dogs!

A number of dogs at the front of the congregation listening to Canon Tony

Harriet Evans, a volunteer and member of Wakefield Cathedral, says, “There were around a dozen dogs present, including one who had brought his Roman Catholic owners with him to ensure he had a cosy lap to sit in. A very lovely border collie enjoyed the hymns and anthem so much that he added his own musical embellishments with whines and howls, as well as some enthusiastic barking during the Bible readings and intercessions.

A couple of dogs at the pet service

“During the penultimate hymn, the pets proceeded down the centre aisle in a more-or-less orderly queue to be blessed and sprinkled with holy water by the Revd Canon Tony Macpherson. One or two seemed to think the sprinkler was a chewy toy and others thought that it was raining!

“The vergers’ mop and bucket was on standby but was not needed as the congregation, both humans and animals, behaved impeccably throughout!

A member of the congregation holding her dog during the service
She adds, “During the sermon in this warm and unexpectedly moving service, Canon Tony emphasised the welcome which the Cathedral offers to pets as well as owners, and mentioned that three dogs are particularly regular attendees.

“Afterwards the Dean expressed his eagerness to hold another pet service, perhaps outdoors next summer, in order to encourage a greater variety of pets to attend. He said that he particularly hopes to welcome a horse or two in future, and maybe even an elephant!”

Photographs taken by Harriet Evans from Wakefield Cathedral


First pet service in Wakefield Cathedral in a weekend dedicated to St Francis

Wakefield Cathedral will hold its first pet service this Sunday in a weekend of events to celebrate animals and the role they play in people’s lives to mark the Feast of St Francis of Assis, the patron saint of animals and the environment.

It is the first time the Cathedral has held a pet service – though Chapter does have a policy of allowing well behaved animals in to services – and last night the Sub Dean and Canon Pastor, the Revd Canon Tony Macpherson said he had counted three dogs amongst the congregation.

He said: “We regularly have dogs and a rat turn up to services; so much so that Chapter created policy.

“And we are well aware of the role pets play in people’s lives and it seemed fitting to organise our first pet service as we remember Francis of Assisi on October 4," he said.

Animals will feature largely over the weekend. The Cathedral hosts an All Creatures Great and Small event starting on Saturday in the nave with an animal safari where children and adults can  get close to rabbits, a skunk, snake and a tarantula at its Messy Cathedral event - held once every school term. This safari opens in the nave at 10am and will include animal themed arts and crafts, lunch and worship from 11- 1pm and the Animal Safari will run from 10 til 4pm.

The first pet service will be held on Sunday at 3.30pm to 4.30pm when there will be an opportunity for pets to be blessed.


Cleckheaton Churches will join the pet parade

Revd. Jack Parkes, curate of Cleckheaton, holding Sebastian the rabbit Three Cleckheaton Churches will be joining Wakefield Cathedral in welcoming family pets to church to be blessed.

Pets of all shapes and sizes are welcome to the Blessing of the Animals services at St. Luke’s at 11:00am on the 4th October; St. John’s at 11:00am on the 11th October; and Whitechapel Church at 9:30am on the 18th October.

The services will celebrate the animals we live alongside and are designed to suit those of all ages.

Vicar of Cleckheaton Churches, Revd Brunel James, says, “I am hoping to see a variety of different creatures and look forward to meeting their owners at our special services.

“These services provide an opportunity for pet owners to come together and celebrate the special relationship they have with their animals.”

The image on the left shows Revd. Jack Parkes, curate of Cleckheaton, holding Sebastian the rabbit - both are looking forward to the Blessing of the Animals services!

He explains that, “The background to this is that we want to have a focus in our churches each October on God as Creator, building on the existing tradition of harvest festivals (Whitechapel Church will be holding a Harvest Show on the 3rd October, more information here: and expanding into related themes like environmental stewardship and trade justice.

Whitchapel Church, Cleckheaton

“Animals play a deep role in many people’s lives, and human stewardship of all God’s creatures is something to celebrate – but it also raises challenging issues.

“We will bless any animals that are brought to these services, but everyone who comes will have a chance to pray and reflect on this important aspect of life.”

Everyone is welcome to the services, but pets should be kept either on leads or in cages.

The image on the right shows the Whichapel Church, Cleckheaton.

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