Mumbai, (The Hindu): Father Joe D’Souza walks between the pews, attending to each animal, petting a labrador, speaking gently to a spaniel, stroking a Pomeranian. Squeals and barks rent the Sunday morning calm and a heavy canine smell hung in the air at the St. John the Evangelist Church near Ballard Estate, where a special service for pets was about to commence.
“Father, thank you for the beauty of your creation,” Fr. D’Souza began. “Only those who have pets know their value and how you treasure them and how they return your love.”
A tall man in billowing white priestly robes, Fr. D’Souza has been conducting this special blessing service every year for 20 years. Across the world, several churches follow the practice in honour of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, on his Feast Day which falls in October. But Fr. D’Souza is perhaps the only one doing so in the city.
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