Shortly after the fire that took the lives of the Gaul kitties, I had an email from a friend of Chuck and Carol’s who wanted to honor the eleven cats lost in the smoke. Charlene Bohn was heartbroken to learn that Carol had been through such a devastating loss and she felt she needed to do something to remember the Gauls and their beloved felines. Charlene wrote to tell me that her church has an annual Blessing of the Animals and she planned to bring eleven flowers to the service to honor Carol’s babies. Charlene wanted to know if I felt it would be appropriate to ask her pastor if some type of donation could also be made to Black and Orange Cat Foundation in remembrance of the Gaul cats.

My response was a resounding yes. When I mentioned this kind gesture to Carol, her eyes filled up with tears and she was pleased beyond all words that someone was remembering her cats in this way.

Just this week I had another email from Charlene about the Blessing of the Animals and I wanted to let everyone know about it so they could also participate in this lovely service to honor Carol and her cats. Charlene spoke to her pastors at King Avenue United Methodist Church (299 King Avenue in Columbus) and they agreed to collect cat food for Black and Orange as a way of helping other cats like Carol’s (all eleven of Carol’s cats who were lost in the fire were rescue cats–one was her latest foster, Charlotte, who we were hoping to place in a wonderful home).

The Blessing of the Animals service will take place at Goodale Park in the gazebo on Sunday, August 29 at 11 am. As the web site states, “all creatures, big and small, are welcome!” So bring your own beloved companion animals out to celebrate and receive a special blessing as a way of honoring the Gaul feline family. Following the service, there will also be a picnic at the Gardener’s cottage.

As Charlene wrote, she is very “excited about this opportunity to help and to bless the memory of the Gaul kitties.”

If you would like to participate in this lovely remembrance of eleven very beloved cats, I can think of no better way than by attending this service and asking that your own special animals be blessed.

The Blessing of the Animals custom comes as a way to celebrate Saint Francis of Assisi, who loved all creatures. To read more about this custom, visit the Dearborn Animal Shelter web site and scroll down until you see the picture of Saint Francis and the word “Custom.” This explains nicely why our animals deserve the love and blessings we give them and why this custom honors Saint Francis.

While we may bless our animals in this lovely celebration, most of us know that we are the ones who are truly blessed to have them in our lives each day.

The image shown at the top is “Sister Frances Blessing 5 Cats” (you can’t see all five cats in this version), which was designed by Jean Batzell Fitzgerald. You can purchase the image on t-shirts and see other artwork she has created to honor cats at her web sites: Cat Art Gifts and Kitty Cat Designs. She took an image of Saint Francis and modified it to be a woman blessing cats, which I felt was very, very appropriate to honor Carol’s kitties.

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