St. Francis of Assisi is depicted in a stained-glass window at St. Hyacinth Church in Glen Head, N.Y.
Gregory A. Shemitz/cns
Blessing of the animals
Is there a winged, tail-wagging or purring creature in your life? Many people consider these beings, which come in all shapes and sizes and species, as blessings. Each year, often in October, people are more than happy to return the favor by bringing their furry or feathered "babies" to churches or schools in their neighborhoods to attend a special ceremony known as the Blessing of the Animals.
Many Catholic schools and churches — as well as members of Anglican and Lutheran faith communities — host this event. It usually takes place on or near Oct. 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, known as the patron saint of animals. The Italian Catholic friar and preacher was born Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone in 1181 or 1182 to a wealthy cloth merchant and his wife in Assisi. As a young, rich man, he lived a lavish lifestyle before experiencing a vision that led him to abandon a life of riches for one of poverty. Along with his great love and empathy for the poor and sick St. Francis also saw God in all creatures. According to legend, he preached to the birds and even convinced a wolf to stop attacking people in a small village. The current practice of blessing the animals is thought to mirror the instances St. Francis blessed the animals.
All animals should be caged, on a leash or carried. Contact your local parish or school for more information and rules. Some of the blessings of the animal ceremonies will be:
Corpus Christi School
Oct. 4, from 2-2:30 p.m.
In the auditorium,
1 Estates Drive, Piedmont
Catholic Community of Pleasanton
Oct. 7, from 1:30-2:30 p.m.
On the lawn near Mary's Grotto at
St. Augustine Church, 3999 Bernal Ave., Pleasanton
Good Shepherd Church
Oct. 4, 5 p.m.
In front of the church,
3200 Harbor St., Pittsburg
Holy Spirit Church
Oct. 4, 6 p.m.
In the parking area behind the church;
37588 Fremont Blvd., Fremont
Most Holy Rosary Church
Nov. 3, 1 p.m.
In the lawn area
1313 A St., Antioch
Our Lady of Guadalupe School
Oct. 4, 2:30 p.m.
School assembly area
40374 Fremont Blvd., Fremont
St. Catherine of Siena Church
Oct. 7, 11:45 a.m. -12:15 p.m.
606 Mellus St., Martinez
St. David of Wales School
Oct. 5, 3 p.m.
871 Sonoma St., Richmond
St. James the Apostle Church
Oct. 7, 1 p.m.
34700 Fremont Blvd., Fremont
St. John Vianney Church
Oct. 6, 10 a.m.
Courtyard behind the church
1650 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek
St. Joseph School
Oct. 4, 7 a.m.
Morning assembly area
1961 Plum St., Pinole
St. Lawrence O'Toole School
Oct. 4, 9 a.m.
3695 High St., Oakland
St. Leo the Great Church
Oct. 6, 11 a.m.
In the church garden
176 Ridgeway Ave., Oakland
St. Patrick School
Sept. 30, 1:30 p.m.
907 Seventh St., Rodeo
St. Raymond Church
Oct. 7, 1 p.m.
11555 Shannon Ave., Dublin
St. Theresa School
Oct. 4, 8:10 a.m.
In the school yard
4850 Clarewood Drive, Oakland
San Damiano Retreat
Oct. 6, 2 p.m.
At the statue of St. Francis
710 Highland Drive, Danville
Sept. 17, 24, Oct. 1
Lectio — Weekly meditation group in the tradition of John Main. 7:30 p.m. at Hesed Community, 3745 Elston Ave., Oakland. Beginners welcome. info@HesedCommunity.org, email@example.com or 510-482-5573.
Weekly meditation groups in the John Main tradition. 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Keeley Center at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 1315 Lomitas Ave., Livermore. Claire La Scola, 925-447-9800, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sept. 18, 25, Oct. 2
Rosary and Divine Mercy prayer group. 6 p.m. rosary, 6:30 p.m., Divine Mercy Chaplet in Mary's Chapel at St. Jarlath Church, 2634 Pleasant St., Oakland.
Perpetual Help novena/prayer. 7 p.m. at Good Shepherd Church, 3200 Harbor St., Pittsburg. 925-432-6404.
Sept. 19, 26, Oct. 3
Perpetual Help Devotion Baclaran Format. 8:15 a.m. or 9:15 a.m. after last morning Mass at Our Lady Queen of the World Church, 3155 Winterbrook Drive, Bay Point. 925-550-0679.
Sept. 20, 27, Oct. 4
Chaplet of Divine Mercy Devotion. 6:30 p.m. at St. Anthony Church, 971 O'Hara Ave., Oakley, followed by Bible study until 8 p.m. 925-625-2109.
Sept. 23, 30, Oct. 7
Family rosary. 6 p.m. Sundays at Tranfiguration Church, 4000 E. Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley. Rosary, singing. Charles Eduru, 510-566-9267.
Tuesdays, Sept. 25, Oct. 9
Fil/Am Ministry at St. Clement Parish. 7:30 p.m. second and fourth Tuesdays at the parish center, 750 Calhoun St., Hayward. Contact: Simon Medrano, president. 510-303-2965.
Faith Sharing Prayer Group. 7:30 p.m. every other Tuesday in Marian room at Transfiguration Church, 4000 E. Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley. Bible reading, faith sharing, rosary, petitions, potluck, etc. Charles, 510-566-9267.
Friday, Sept. 28
Taize: an evening of prayer around the cross at St. Joseph Basilica. 8 p.m. at 1109 Chestnut St., Alameda. Taize is an ecumenical, candlelit service of prayer for peace and reconciliation offered in simple chant, Scripture readings, silent worship and veneration of the Cross. www.taizeontheisland.co.cc or email@example.com.
Divine Mercy Center and Perpetual Adoration Chapel, 11152 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 510- 412-4715, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.DivineMercyWestCoast.org.
St. Agnes Parish, 3966 Chestnut Ave., Concord. To enter between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. requires an access code. Dial 925-689-0838 to schedule your hour.
Holy Spirit Parish, 37588 Fremont Blvd., Fremont. 510-797-1660.
9 a.m.-5 p.m. at Most Holy Rosary Church, 1313 A St., Antioch. 925-757-4020.
8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mary's House of Mercy, 1850 Church Lane, San Pablo.
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday in the convent, 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays in the church at St. Bede Church, 26950 Patrick Ave., Hayward. 510-782-2171.
Monday – Saturday
9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Our Lady of Good Counsel Chapel, 2500 Bermuda Ave., San Leandro. First Fridays: 9:30 a.m. all night to 7 p.m. Saturday. 510-614-2765.
7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the chapel at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 860 Oak Grove Ave., Concord. 925-682-5447.
12:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Seton Church, 4001 Stoneridge Drive, Pleasanton.
8 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Benediction in Mary's Chapel at St. Jarlath Church, 2620 Pleasant St., Oakland.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays
6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays; daily Mass 6 p.m., in the chapel at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St., Berkeley. 510-843-2244.
Every Fourth Tuesday
7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, Motherhouse Chapel, 43326 Mission Blvd. (off Mission Tierra), Fremont. Contact email@example.com or dial 510-449-7554.
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays
7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays at St. Mary Church, 2039 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek. 925-891-8900.
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays, 9 a.m. to midnight Fridays, midnight Fridays to 8 a.m. Saturdays at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 500 Fairview Ave., Brentwood. 925-634-4154.
Thursdays, First Saturdays
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays, 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. Sunday (first Saturdays) at St. Isidore Church, 440 La Gonda Way, Danville. 925-837-2122.
8 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. (benediction at 8:45 p.m.), in the chapel at St. Michael Church, 458 Maple St., Livermore. 925-447-1585.
1 p.m. to 8 p.m. at St. Monica Church, 1001 Camino Pablo, Moraga. 925-376-6900.
7:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. at Transfiguration Church, 4000 E. Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley. Charles, 510-566-9267.
Sept. 18 – 20
"Taking the Further Journey" at San Damiano Retreat in Danville. With Paula D'Arcy. Faith is the first step. Then a greater invitation unfolds, asking us to belong, with great fidelity, to something that calls from deep within. What are we being called to embrace, and who might we become if we actually opened our hearts? Registration is from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 18; retreat ends with lunch Sept. 20. $240 private/$210 shared. 925-837-9141, ext. 315, or register online: www.sandamiano.org.
Sept. 21 – 23
Central/Northern California Catholic Men's Fellowship Fall Retreat. At Old Oak Ranch, 15250 Old Ranch Road, Sonora, California. Theme: "Fight the Good Fight of Faith." Get away from the pressures and activities of daily life for a refreshing weekend of renewal. Online registration and Paypal payment: www.Catholicmen.org or send $145 donation for lodging and meals to 2012 CMF CA Fall Retreat, 19731 Bowman Lane, Huntington Beach, CA 92646; email: SonoraCMF@gmail.com; or 209-264-2263.
Saturday, Sept. 29
"Still in the Storm." 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at San Damiano Retreat in Danville. Joe Grant of JustFaith Ministries, and author of Engaging Spirituality will lead this retreat which explores the intersection between Christian spirituality and social engagement. Registration begins at 9 a.m. $55 cost of includes lunch. 925-837-9141, ext. 315, or register online at www.sandamiano.org.
Saturday, Sept. 22
St. Charles Fall Festival. Noon to 8 p.m. at 1315 Lomitas Ave., Livermore. Carnival games for all ages — Bingo and bocce — face painting and balloon creations. Fair trade booths, raffles, karaoke and movies for the youth. Also ongoing entertainment on the stage and hot off the grill food served. 4 p.m. Mass; 5 p.m. tri-tip or Portobello mushroom dinner, $12, hot dog dinner, $5. Purchase tickets ahead of time. Contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 925-447-4549, ext. 114.
St. Philip Neri-St. Albert the Great GOOD TIME FAIRE. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at High Street @ Van Buren, Alameda. Miniature golf course, carnival games, cake walk and so much more fun! Enter our raffle drawing for a sailboat cruise on SF Bay, a new Dell laptop, Breville juicer and more. www.saspn.org or 510-373-5200.
Sunday, Sept. 30
4th Annual Parish Festival. Noon to 4 p.m. at St. Jerome Church, 308 Carmel Ave., El Cerrito (near Fairmount/Colusa). Free admission and open to the community. Festival and street fair with games, prizes, and live music; art, crafts, books and gifts for sale. Tri-tip barbecue and a variety of food and beverages; famous 50-50 raffle with two winners. stjeromeec.org, 510-525-0876.
Tuesday – 18
Telling the Great Story of Vatican II. 7:30 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Seton Church, 4001 Stoneridge Drive in Pleasanton. The Tuesday evening series continues on Sept. 18: Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation: Flinging open the Bible to God's people, facilitated by Aggie Burke, Bible scholar. Information: Lisa at email@example.com or 925-600-1765.
Sept. 18 – Oct. 2
Jubilee Year of Vatican II: Pouring Out the Spirit in Our Times. 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at St. Joan of Arc Church, 2601 San Ramon Valley Blvd., San Ramon. Presenter: Father Tom Bonacci, CP. Sept. 18: Why is the Council important to you and the Church today?; Sept. 25: The Core Teachings of Vatican II: Church, Bible, Prayer, Service; Oct. 2: Faithful Interpretation: The Spirituality of Vatican II.
Wednesday, Sept. 19
Movie Night: The Big Question — A Film about Forgiveness. 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 16642 Ashland Ave., San Lorenzo. A Paulist film featuring Desmond Tutu, Sr. Helen Prejean, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rev. Joseph Lowry, Deepak Chopra, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Hopi Elders and more. In the wake of heinous crimes, could you forgive? Should you forgive? This film explores the big question through astonishing acts of forgiveness, courage and will. 63 min. of film with several opportunities for directed reflection and sharing. Refreshments served. Admission is free. No wheelchair access. Contact: Kris East, 510-276-5021 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, Sept. 25
Death penalty discussion. 7:30 p.m. at Christ the King Church, 199 Brandon Road in Pleasant Hill. Speakers include a former San Quentin warden, former district attorney and a victim's family member. Sponsored by the Diocese of Oakland. Christ the King Parish, Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center and the Yes on 34 campaign.
Sept. 26 – Nov. 4
40 Days for Life Comes to Oakland. Join other Christians for 40 Days of Life — 40 days of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion. Also stand and peacefully pray during the 40-day vigil in the public right-of-way outside of "Family Planning Specialists" at 200 Webster St. in Oakland and help spread the word about this important community outreach. Questions?: email@example.com.
Sept. 19, Oct. 3
Divorced and/or Separated Group. 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. biweekly on Wednesdays at St. Elizabeth Seton Church Chapel, 4001 Stoneridge Drive, Pleasanton. Come and join others who have lost a marriage and begin to build your new life. Pre-registration is required. Information/registration: Roxanne, 925-462-0750.
Sept. 20, Oct. 4
Breast Cancer Support Group. 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. first and third Thursdays at St. Isidore Church, 440 La Gonda Way, Danville. All women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer or are a breast cancer survivor, are invited to these informal meetings which are led by a breast cancer survivor. Please call Marla prior to attending as dates and times are subject to change. Contacts: Marla Hartung, 925-831-2475 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Faith Formation, 925-362-1901.
Thursday, Sept. 20
Catholic Divorced Widowed and Separated of Contra Costa. 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Mary Church, 2039 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek. All who are struggling from a loss due to separation, divorce, or death of a loved one are welcome to participate in this peer group. Joan S., 925-939-1007.
Saturday, Oct. 6
No More Secrets — Bimonthly Support Group for Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Elementary School, faculty room, 1516 – 33rd Ave., Oakland. Street parking is available. Facilitated by a licensed psychotherapist. Survivors and their families are welcome. Sponsor: Diocese of Oakland. 510-843-6971.