Friar Jack Muses About His Visit to San Francisco

At 10:30 a.m., Father Floyd Lotito, O.F.M., and I, wearing our Franciscan habits, began walking the three of four blocks from St. Boniface Church indowntown San Franciso to San Francisco City Hall.

It was a bright, sunny day, and the beautiful towering dome with its gold trimmings gleaned in the distance. The sight made both of us friars conscious of our mission: to take the gentle message of St. Francis to the seat of power of the great American city named after Francis of Assisi.

In a friendly ceremony in the mayor's office, Father Floyd presented to Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., a copy of my children's book, "St. Francis in San Francisco." The mayor received the book graciously. Father Floyd, who has worked for 33 years among the poor and homeless of San Francisco's"Tenderloin" district, encouraged the mayor to be mindful of the city's poor.

The mayor opened the book and read the inscription with care and attention: "For Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., and the people of San Francisco--May the gracious and congenial spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, your patron and protector, always hover over your city!"

The mayor paged through the book with a smile and said, "I will read this to the children."

I expressed to the mayor the wish that the "book encourage the people of San Francisco to learn more about their patron saint." I also gave the mayor a plaque of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, commenting that Francis' peacemaking spirit is much needed at this time of national crisis.

The mayor, who had intended to be in Assisi, Italy, on October 4 to celebrate the feast of St. Francis with the citizens of that city (San Francisco and Assisi are sister cities), said he unfortunately had to cancel because of the tragic terrorist events of September 11. (The U.S. government had advised him it might not be good to travel at this time and risk being stranded in Europe.)


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Because San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown had to cancel his plans to be in Assisi for the feast of St. Francis, he was able to make an appearance at Father Floyd Lotito, O.F.M.'s, Blessing of the Animals on October 6 in front of St. Boniface Church in downtown San Francisco. The Franciscans at St. Boniface and their many co-workers at nearby St. Anthony Foundation offer many services for the poor and homeless in that area, known as the"Tenderloin." Mayor Brown ascended the platform just as the ceremony was beginning. A good number of dogs, large and small (some yelping, some quiet), birds, cats and other pets, as well as a horse with a policeman mounted atop it, were already gathered before the platform.

The mayor had words of praise for St. Francis, the patron of San Francisco. St. Francis, he said, had great respect for the preciousness of all life--a respect that extended even to animals and all other creatures. He also expressed appreciation for the children's book, St. Francis in San Francisco, which he had received from the hands of Father Floyd a few days earlier.

After the mayor left the platform, Father Floyd started the blessing ceremony. With his hands extended, he prayed a general blessing over the animals gathered before him with their owners, followed by a prayer for any pets that were sick and in need of healing. You can find these prayers at

Finally, Father Floyd descended the platform and began blessing the petsindividually and calling them each by name after the title of "Brother" or"Sister." Father Louie Vitale, O.F.M., pastor of St. Boniface, and Deacon Jim Meyer also mingled with the crowd, gently touching and blessing the animals. Witnessing the prayers and the animal-blessing ritual helped bring home to me the truth what we all form one blessed family with the rest of the created world.

You can find pictures of this year's San Francisco pet blessing at

Friars Jack (center) and Floyd present Friar Jack's new book to San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

You'll find all of my back issues at my new Web address,

Peace and all good!

Friar Jack Wintz, O.F.M.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions via e-mail:

—Jack Wintz, O.F.M.

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