The animals at Rolling Hills Zoo will receive a special blessing this week.
According to the zoo, on Saturday the Rev. Robert Nelson Smith, President and CEO of Saint Francis Community Services, will perform a blessing of the animals. Father Bobby will visit the tigers, apes, anteaters, aardvarks, camels, rhinos, giraffes, Andean bears, lions, the animals at Kid’s Country, and finish with the painted dogs in the zoo.
The blessings throughout the zoo will begin at 1:00. Guests are invited to follow along and observe the blessings and can participate in the final blessing for those that support the zoo on Overlook patio at 3:30 p.m. For a complete schedule of animal blessings, visit www.rollinghillszoo.org.
The blessing of animals in honor of St. Francis. It was developed as a direct result of St. Francis’s own understanding of the kinship shared by humans with all other creatures by virtue of having the same creator, God. Francis, who founded the Franciscan Order, was a great lover of animals and is even said to have preached to the birds about their duty to praise God. Although the specific customs about blessing animals vary from place to place, one common feature is that prayers are offered not only for the animals themselves but also for the people who care for them.
“We are thrilled to have Father Bobby here for this special blessing of the animals and the amazing keepers who provide such great care of our animals”, said Rolling Hills Marketing Director, Vickee Spicer. “We look forward to continuing this annual tradition that really seems to resonate with the keepers and the community”.
The Rev. Robert Nelson Smith has been the CEO and President of Saint Francis Community Services since July of this year. Previously, Smith has served as associate rector to four churches that form LaSalle County Episcopal Ministry within the Diocese of Chicago. Prior to joining Saint Francis, Fr. Smith also served as a senior leader of health care systems in Illinois and Wisconsin.