St. Francis of Assisi
The St. Francis of Assisi Ministry at St. Paul Catholic Church was founded by Parochial Vicar, Father Bob Romaine and parishioners Tina Bubb and Kevin Bischoff. The initial intent of the ministry was to host a Mass for those who have lost a pet. The first Mass regarding this intention was held on Friday, July 27, 2018. After the first Mass was held, many parishioners began to seek out support for their pets who were ill or recently deceased. After a few weeks of planning, the first ministry meeting was organized on September 1, 2018, with 12 members present. One of the initial goals of the ministry was to solicit prayer requests for pets and their owners. Almost immediately, prayer requests began to pour in for those seeking comfort from the recent loss of a pet and from those who were sick.
The St. Francis of Assisi Ministry meets every second Saturday at 9:00am in the St. Michael Buidling on the St. Paul Catholic Church campus. In addition, the ministry hosts four events a year: the annual Pet Owners’ Mass of Remembrance, the Blessing of the Animals at the Santo Niño Shrine (on the first Saturday in October) and two prayer services. The colors of the ministry are green and silver. Green symbolizes creation and life and earth whereas silver symbolizes the angelic world.
The parish also hosts the ministry’s email account whereby parishioners may email their prayer intentions for both sick and deceased pets. The ministry members attend Eucharistic Adoration in the St. Paul Chapel each Tuesday night from 7:00pm – 8:00pm to pray for intentions received. Members who attend Eucharistic Adoration at St. Paul Catholic Church always wear their green and silver polo shirts with their ministry’s logo so that parishioners may approach them personally with their intentions or to seek someone to talk to about their companion’s situation. The ministry also sends out get well cards to owners of pets who are ill and sympathy cards to those owners who have recently lost a pet. The cards assure the individual that he/she and their pet are being remembered in prayer. This includes not only the animal, but the owner who may be suffering from their loved one’s illness or recent death. The ministry also sends out a quarterly newsletter to all members, with articles and features including the “Pet of the Month”. The ministry has grown since its initial founding with 12 members to over 40 members, ranging in ages from five to 80 years old.
The ministry has extended their works outside the campus gates. In the spring of 2019, the ministry supported the Annual Walker Middle School Animal Shelter Fair. They also assisted with the “Vets for Pets” program last year and will be assisting the St. Francis Pet Rescue in Tampa this year. According to former Parochial Vicar of St. Paul Parish, Father Bob, it is important “to show compassion for all God’s creatures”. Works done by the ministry not only teaches adults, but also young children, about having empathy for what God has created. According to co-founder Tina Bubb, “People are grateful for our prayers and many gain comforts from the works of our ministry”. Tina conveyed that when one sends an email or approaches us during Adoration, “Know that you and your pet are in our prayers!”.