It’s certainly true that everybody’s welcome at the house of God—believers, non-believers, sinners, and even stray animals. In fact, in Brazil, a parish priest personally invites stray dogs to attend Sunday Masses. He does this in the hopes of finding these animals new families among the parishioners. Meet the kind-hearted Father João Paulo Araujo Gomes of Paróquia de Sant’Ana Gravatá.
Father Gomes typically spends his Sundays celebrating Mass with some special guests—the forgotten dogs of Gravatá. As such, for Mass attendees, seeing a dog or two at the altar is not a surprising sight to see. The same goes for some of our furry friends who find solace in sleeping along the aisle. Indeed, these dogs will always have a special place at their parish, thanks to Father Gomes.
“They will always be able to enter, sleep, eat, drink their water and find shelter and protection, for this house is of God and they are of God.”
We all know how dogs like to act when they’re around their favorite human. And so, the priest can also be spotted petting them and giving them belly rubs from time to time. The love of Father Gomes for these animals is truly remarkable. And it goes beyond just providing them with a temporary refuge during Masses. In fact, he actually takes good care of them by feeding them and providing all their needs.
There’s no doubt that Father Gomes has created a strong affinity with these dogs. Hence, it’s also not surprising to know that he has personally adopted some of them.
“I helped several dogs with serious health problems. Some of them I brought to the parish house and they were later adopted. Three of them stayed with me. Today, they are my children and sleep in my bed.”
However, the priest together with some parish volunteers can also do so much. As such, they’re also seeking the help of other parishioners in spreading the message. Thankfully, their small acts of kindness are slowly paying off. Several stray dogs have already found loving families and new homes. Likewise, the number of Gravatá’s stray dogs has also significantly reduced.
Indeed, compassion is a universal language that humanity speaks, regardless of religion. Hopefully, more institutions would follow the steps of the kind-hearted priest. That way, more animals would find themselves in actual homes, and not in streets or shelters.