With all of the negative stories that we seem to be bombarded with on a daily basis, it is nice to hear something heartwarming for a change. This is the story of someone who is actually doing good for animals and promoting the cause from his pulpit in the church. There are times when we just need to be reminded that there are decent and caring human beings still walking the face of the Earth. No matter if it is an animal or a long lost soul, we need to respect and cherish life just as much. Those of us who have benefited from the riches that this world has to offer should be using that blessing to make an impact on others. That is where this story gets its start. It took place in Brazil and it is about a priest and his desire to care for the many stray dogs that surround his church on a daily basis.
The Back Story
It is amazing to consider how many dogs in the world are without a home. They have no way to force themselves into a caring and nurturing environment, so they must hope for some caring people to come along and help them carry through with the daily routine and live their life as safely as possible. Nobody seems to know this better than Father Joao Pulo de Araujo Gomes. Father Gomes is a priest in Brazil who has made it a practice to always have a stray dog with him by the pulpit as he delivers the weekly mass.
If that sounds to you, imagine how the congregants reacted at first. For the priest. however, he never missed a beat. Now, the church is well known throughout the region for drawing attention to the plight of homeless dogs. In fact, that is why Father Gomes has a different homeless dog sit on the floor right next to him each Sunday morning. It provides everyone in attendance with a visual reminder of the importance of not only taking care of neglected animals but of each other as well. It really is a story that has many different directions you can go with the message. The reality is that many dogs, in Brazil and America alike, are without anyone to take care of them. They did not ask for this life. Yet, here they are. Are we just going to ignore them, or are we going to do our small part to help ease the problem somewhat? Father Gomes obviously decided on the latter, and he is hoping that many others in Brazil and around the world will do the same as well.
More About Father Gomes
You might be wondering about Father Gomes. What happened to bring him to this point in his life where he shares the pulpit with a different stray dog every time? He has remarked that he has always loved animals. His family had them growing up and he was always good around dogs. He never really thought much about stray dogs, however, until his arrival at his current parish in Paroquia de SantAna Gravata. That was in 2013. It was then that he found a second calling to help ease the plight of the homeless dogs in his area.
It all happened when some volunteers came up to him one day in his new city to sell some cookies. He got to talking to them about what the money was to be used for, and that was when he discovered that is was a project to help the stray animals in the city. This really moved him to the point that he actually gave the group some time during the following mass to talk about the project and advertise their cookies for sale. From that moment on, Father Gomes actually started to partner with the NGO and he has never turned back.
The Stray Dogs
Naturally, the dogs are at the center of this story. From the moment that the group approached him to sell cookies, he began to learn about the number of homeless animals living all around him. They were enduring the most difficult of situations imaginable. His mission became to help the dogs locate a home to finally live and thrive in. This would be a daunting task and he firmly believed that this was one of the reasons that the church exists. He immediately began to look for ways to get the members of his church involved and that is when he came up with the idea of having the dogs actually come to mass with him. These stray dogs have now been a regular fixture at the church ever since.
Father Gomes also believes that he must lead by example. As a priest, people look up to him. So, he also began to take in the dogs to his home. When he would come across a dog that was critically injured, he would help nurse them back to health on his own. He would also adopt some of the dogs, with some volunteers helping him. This has served to inspire many in his church to do that same and the issue of homeless dogs throughout the community is now more widely discussed with real solutions being implemented.
This church is no longer viewed as a place of refuge only for humans. The stray dogs now know and understand that it is a safe place for them as well. This is a place where they can go and know that they will be treated well and with dignity and respect. They also have their physical needs met as well, with feeders having placed up in various locations around the church. This is where the dogs know they can always find something to eat and drink when they need it. When it is hot outside and the dogs need a place to rest, the church is open to them as well. This is a great story that will hopefully inspire other communities around the world to begin doing the same.