St. Francis Ministry for Animals
Contributing to the well-being of animals in need through service in the St. Francis Ministry for Animals is a heartwarming and rewarding experience for parishioner Lucia Esposito. “It has offered me an opportunity to express my creativity by designing gift baskets, handmade cards, posters, and gathering various pet themed items for our fundraising events. Connecting with the most wonderful, compassionate people who share the same love for animals that I do has given me a real sense of community” she shares.
Carol and Tom Holland’s family has included several pets through the years. After their long-beloved cat “Tuda” passed away, a Miniature Dachshund named Miss Pitty Pat bounded into their lives and into their hearts. “I didn’t find out how much she meant to me personally until the kids were gone from the home nest, with Tom still traveling. Miss P was there for me when I most needed some love and attention…. I lost my best girl to illness in 2013 and joined St. Francis Ministry for Animals in her memory, as a tribute” Carol says. “Animals enrich our lives everyday with unconditional love. The mission of our ministry is about the mutually beneficial relationship between people and animals. We should help care for needy creatures in gratitude for the gifts they bestow upon us” Carol suggests. These days the Holland household is graced with two frolicsome Dachshunds.
St. Francis Ministry for Animals began at Christ Church in 2012, when Jen Regan, then a new parishioner, Education for Ministry (EFM) participant and animal lover recognized an opportunity to combine her faith experience with a calling to help animals.
“It seemed like a natural way to express my love of God’s creation and help our local community. EFM encouraged me to serve others as Christ has taught us; Jesus instructs us to especially remember the poor and powerless. To me, there was no better way to do this than to form a ministry dedicated to helping animals in need and the people who love them.” Jen recalls. Today, the ministry has over 100 members. They work with a variety of nonprofits throughout a three county area, donating pet food and supplies, labor, and funds for veterinary care. They participate in “Paws for Friendship” a pet therapy program that brightens the days of residents at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. They host the popular Christ Church Blessing of the Animals, and hold quarterly Pet Food and Supply Drives on the Ponte Vedra campus. For more information about St. Francis Ministry for Animals, visit them on Facebook or Twitter @StFrancisCEC.