There is a reason why dogs are known to be our best friends. These furry companions give us unconditional love and precious moments that bring joy to everyone’s home.
Unfortunately, we often forget how valuable they are. Numerous dogs are neglected, affected by cruel street life and in desperate need of urgent help and attention.
However, the world would surely be a better place if we all took better care of dogs. Believe it or not, stray dogs in Brazil regularly attend church services to meet their new owners!
This should not surprise you, as any religion teaches us to be compassionate and kind. Whether or not someone can return your favor or not, love is at the root of all religious prose.
And love goes beyond the human.
To help the homeless dogs around the Paróquia de Sant’Ana Gravatá, Father João Paulo Araujo Gomes, the head of the parish of Santana in the city of Gravatá, invites them to become a part of his services, in hopes that they will be noticed.
In this way, the forgotten dogs can find their loving homes.
Father João Paulo is housing stray dogs in his rectory away from the dangers of the streets, and he also takes good care of them, feeds them and provides all the necessary medical treatment.
Outside of the church, the Father has placed bowls of fresh water and dog food, to welcome the unwanted animals into the sanctuary whenever they needed a break from the weather.
Every Sunday, these dogs are in the center of attention. The cute pups often join the priest at the altar for some attention and belly rubs, and he never disappoints them.
Father João Paulo wrote on Facebook:
“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.”
The priest encourages churchgoers to invite other people who are interested in bringing home a new family member.
Father João explained that it all started one day, when someone had offered him cookies. He left them out in mass, and they were quickly taken up by attendees.
The idea came when he came across a dog kennel with 96 dogs.
‘Then I began to bring the dogs to mass, with the same hopes of giving them away. In six months, I finished this process. All dogs were adopted. Now I work with street dogs. “
He also adds that during service, they talk about dogs on the streets and the ways people should respect and protect them.
“The church also helps with a castration project (to limit the number of stray dogs). We also help dogs in emergencies such as victims of violence or health problems.”
His kind-hearted actions have drastically reduced the number of abandoned dogs on the streets of Gravatá, as dozens of stray dogs have already found loving homes.
The Father has adopted some himself.
“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.”
A photo of him conducting mass with a dog on his side went viral on Facebook, and his selfless gestures of Christian solidarity echoed on social networks, generating a wave of positive comments.
People were inspired by his kind heart and claimed that this is a great example to follow.
Many called the Father a hero and admired his attempts to help those who don’t have a voice of their own.
Father Gomes maintains:
“I began to adopt some animals who had been mistreated … always with the support of volunteers. Caring for animals and nature as a whole is a great gesture of love for God, humanity, and the planet. We need to develop the perspective of compassion. Too much violence, too much aggression and accusation, diversity becomes the scene of war and struggle, and compassion is the only remedy.”
He is humble and only wishes he could do more to help:
“What I do is just a drop of water in the face of the magnitude of the problem. I wish I could welcome all the animals, but we work with many limitations. Everything I do depends on volunteers and volunteers who help me, so it’s not my merits but those people’s, too.”