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Dog Receives Church Communion

Dog Receives Church Communion

How would you feel if you saw a dog receive Holy Communion in your church?

Well that’s exactly what happened to churchgoers at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Toronto last month when St. Peter’s interim pastor, Rev. Marguerite Rea, invited Donald Keith into her church. The Reverend welcomed Keith after he had been harassed by police for sitting on the church steps with his dog, Trapper — an activity both enjoy. Because it was Keith’s first time attending St. Peter’s, Rev. Rea invited him up for communion. Naturally, Trapper walked up with him.

Keith rescued Trapper from death row after three previous owners gave up on the dog’s separation anxiety issues. The two are now a team and go everywhere together – even church!

The Toronto Star reports Keith as stating “The whole thing was all very innocent and the joy and happiness on the face of one old lady in the front row made it all worthwhile.”

Apparently there was one curmudgeon sitting in the pews that day. The church’s Bishop Patrick Yu, along with Rev. Rea, received a complaint from an unhappy parishioner who believes a dog receiving communion is against the rules. The man has since decided to leave the church as a result.

Bishop Yu is quoted as saying, “I can see why people would be offended. It is a strange and shocking thing, and I have never heard of it happening before. I think the reverend was overcome by what I consider a misguided gesture of welcoming.”

One witness, Peggy Needham, gave her own impression of Keith and Trapper strolling to the front of the church that day.  

“I am sure for Marguerite that was a surprise, like it was for all of us,” said Needham. “But nobody felt like it was a big deal, because it wasn’t a big deal.”

She went on to say “I think it was this natural reaction: here’s this dog, and he’s just looking up, and she’s giving the wafers to people and she just gave one to him,” said Needham. “Anybody might have done that. It’s not like she’s trying to create a revolution.” 

Rev. Rea has apologized and Bishop Yu stated “Unless there is any further evidence that she is giving communion to animals, the matter is closed … we are after all, in the forgiveness and repair business.” 

So, what do you think? Is it okay for a dog (or other pet) to accompany their human to church, or receive communion? Didn’t God make all creatures — not just humans — to be loved and cared for?

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Flickr: zixyer

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470 comments

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8:32PM PDT on Oct 7, 2010

'there is a benediction day for pets in most of the catholic churches; why not give a wafer to a dog?

7:54PM PDT on Sep 5, 2010

leave it to someone to blow this out of proportion takes all kinds i guesse..lol i think it was sweet and it was only 1 dog besides god does love us all!!!!!!!

5:35PM PDT on Sep 2, 2010

I think people, especially people who consider themselves religious, take themselves far far too seriously. God loves all creatures. I buried Gabriel, the first dog that I shared my life with as an adult, in the backyard with a headstone that says "God's Love on Earth". Sometimes I don't like people very much but I have always loved the dogs who have blessed my life.

6:52PM PDT on Aug 24, 2010

Cherry M, I agree with you totally. Wonderfully said!

1:45PM PDT on Aug 22, 2010

I dont understand receiving comments in my email about how dogs are more intelligent than people. Think before you comment, it really helps! The day dogs can talk is the day they will have recieved the intelligence I speak of. Human intelligence is VERY different from animal intelligence. Just like denial is not a river in Egypt.

7:14PM PDT on Aug 20, 2010

I think people get upset by things that would probably not bother God in the slightest, and overlook things that I would think would be obviously important, but that's just me. To me, most dogs are more godlike than most people, so why should acknowledging their contribution to our lives in a religious rite be so shocking?

9:08AM PDT on Aug 20, 2010

Sad, sad, sad. We have time to attend to this while humans are treated like animals. Move along, it just isn't that important. Rev. just did what she had to. Now let's not do it again.

9:01PM PDT on Aug 10, 2010

Only if it was a Catholic dog. Otherwise it would be animal abuse.
(just joking)

8:31AM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

I was attending Mass when I saw a dog in the church - I think no one would mind - I agree with Mary Jane: all animals, including cats and dogs, are God's creatures.

6:12PM PDT on Aug 8, 2010

why not? After all, animals are Gods creatures too. So why is everyone getting upset. BREATH AN RELAX.

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