By Walt Johnson | Mountaineer staff
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Fort Carson Family members and their pets gathered at the Soldiers’ Memorial Chapel on post Oct. 4, 2020, to participate in the 3rd annual Blessing of the Animals celebration.
The event is held as close to Oct. 4, 2020, as possible because in the Catholic calendar it is the feast of St. Francis, according to Capt. Lukasz J. Willenberg, chaplain, 4th Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Saint Francis is a saint who lived in the 12th-century and was known for living a holy life and ministering to the poor and needy in Italy, in addition to his great love for animals.
“So based on his life and, again, for Catholic church — his love for all God’s creatures — it became a fun tradition of the church, not just the Catholic church but a lot of church communities to have the blessing of animals during his feast,” Willenberg said. “We do it to honor him and to honor the relationship we have with all God’s creatures. I think it is a great way to honor the relationship with our four-legged friends. Our relationship with our animals in many ways also represents our spiritual relationship with God. The way God is taking care of us, we take care of all of God’s creatures that he entrusts to us in the extension of that love and care. At the same time our animals provide comfort and protection for us and support us emotionally and spiritually and they are our faithful companions in our journey of life.”
Adolfo Campos, his wife and daughter, brought their two dogs to the event. Campos said he wanted to be at the celebration for pets because he loves his dogs as if they were his own daughters, and he thought it would be a great thing to have them take part in the event. He and his family felt it was important to participate so they could be blessed with the holy water and recognized for being an integral part of his family.
“This has the same meaning for me as when my kids have their confirmation and first communion,” Campos said. “When we found out they offered this for the pets, we felt we should bring them out here. I’m very thankful for a program like this, and I am pretty sure my puppies are grateful for the program also.”
After the ceremony, Willenberg walked around the chapel parking lot and sprayed each pet with holy water, signifying the cleansing of sin from the animals and a protection against evil spirits.