A chapel for the animals

A chapel for the animals

Not sure how I feel about this. At the Catholic chapel on the campus of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA, people and their pets are being sheltered in the sanctuary. Some people are refusing to leave their pets and can’t get into regular shelters so the chaplain let them stay in the chapel. We’re told about people and their pets sleeping on the floors, in pews, and even under the altar.

I don’t think Jesus would turn them away. After all, he was born in a barn and laid in a manger. I’m sure St. Francis would have allowed them to come in with their animals too. The people say that, having lost everything, all connections to their old lives including photos and heirlooms, their pets are a last link to life before Katrina.

“I went over to the school shelter Tuesday night and saw all these people outside, looking dejected and clinging to their animals,” said the slender 44-year-old priest with friendly blue eyes and sandy hair he hasn’t had time to comb lately. “They wouldn’t let them inside. So I said, bring them on over to the church.”

The first night there were 130 people with “all these rottweilers, poodles, Chihuahuas, cats, birds, even a pot-bellied pig. It was unbelievable. We had no kennels or cages - PetSmart and Petco donated them later - and people slept on the terrazzo floor and on the pews. We had no electricity. It was like Noah’s Ark.”

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli