As a volunteer for the Buddy Foundation, Gerry Dierks of Des Plaines has been a foster parent to dozens of homeless cats and kittens for the last several years. But then she heard a member of the Episcopal Network for Animal Welfare talk about ways to keep animals as a vital part of a church’s ministry, and from then on she knew that would be her mission. “The church has a reputation of being human centered. This was quite exciting,” she said. “This is a fledgling operation, but we hope to do more in the future.” For openers, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Des Plaines is now included in a directory of “Animal Friendly Congregations” and is the first church in Illinois to be listed. The Episcopal Network sees ending animal cruelty as an essential task of the church, especially where neglect, cruelty, degradation and commercial exploitation are concerned.
This is a good example of a simple program that churches can start that creates interest and excitement about the Good News and ways that it can be shared and lived.
At St Nicholas with the Holy Innocents, there is an annual pet blessing in the fall, usually on the Sunday closest to the Feast of St Francis, patron saint of animals. There is also often a spring event.
Our own "simple program" is the Second Family supplemental food pantry. This is held every first and third Wednesdays at 6pm at the church, and anyone in need is welcome to drop by and pick up bags of groceries. There is no residency requirement or time limit mandated between visits, and the hours are scheduled so that working people may visit.
Good for the people of St Martin's, Des Plaines!