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SPCA Anticipates Record Animal Blessing Turn-Out

SPCA Anticipates Record Turn-Out For Animal Blessing Services

Ceremonies planned across New Zealand (details attached)

New Zealand’s largest ever celebration of animals is expected to occur this coming Sunday (2nd October), as ‘Blessing of the Animals’ services take place in churches and other venues across the country.

A record number of branches and member societies of the Royal New Zealand SPCA will be helping to facilitate the services, which mark the Sunday immediately prior to World Animal Day (Tuesday 4th October), otherwise known as the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of Animals.

“In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the numbers of people bringing their animals to be blessed by clergy on the Sunday preceding World Animal Day,” says the Royal New Zealand SPCA’s National Chief Executive, Robyn McDonald.

“The day has become an occasion for people to celebrate the sheer diversity of life on our planet and the bond so many of us share with our non-human friends. It’s also an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the fight against cruelty and abuse towards animals.

“This year, fourteen SPCA branches are either organizing services or assisting churches with their own services. This is a record number and should also result in a record turn-out of both animals and animal lovers. It will be a truly festive occasion and a wonderful day out for all the family, including the animal members,” she says.

The magnificent church of St Matthew-in-the-City will again form the backdrop for Auckland’s ‘Blessing of the Animals’ service. A less traditional format is to be followed this year, with contributions from a vintage jazz band and from members of the Auckland Theatre Company. The Auckland service commences at 11.30 am and is to be preceded by ‘Breakfast in the Park’ in Albert Park at 9.00 am and by ‘The Great Animal Walk’, which is due to start at 10.45 am.

In Christchurch, dogs, cats, ponies, alpacas and goats, as well as rabbits, mice, exotic animals and birds are all invited to join the human worshippers in the Cathedral’s stately interior for a 3.00 pm service, following a parade of animals around Cathedral Square, commencing at 2.15 pm.

The congregation at Dunedin’s St Paul’s Cathedral is likely to be equally diverse. True to the city’s Scottish traditions, animals and humans alike will be piped into their places at 3.00 pm. A service at St Peter’s Cathedral, Hamilton commences at 2.30 pm, while those at both Nelson Cathedral and New Plymouth’s historic St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral are scheduled for 10.00 am.

At Kerikeri, the animals will be blessed in and around the Church of St James, which stands on the site of what is believed to be the first church built in New Zealand. There will also be special church services held in Greymouth, Hastings, Palmerston North and Wanganui. In contrast, Tauranga’s animals are to be blessed at a ceremony held at the city’s race track whilst, in Waipukurau, the local SPCA shelter will be the venue.

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