Hᴏᴍᴇʟᴇss dogs in Brazil regularly attend church services to meet their new owners. If you think that ᴀʙᴀɴᴅᴏɴᴇᴅ dogs magically turn to God for help, unfortunately, it’s not exactly the case, but this extraordinary scenario can still be encountered every Sunday at Paróquia de Sant’Ana Gravatá. It’s a small action, but it has made a big difference for the forgotten dogs of Gravatá.
Gomes has always loved animals, but when he arrived at Paróquia de Sant’Ana Gravatá as a priest in 2013, he found his calling again. Gomes said:” Some volunteers came to me selling cookies to help a project with sᴛʀᴀʏ animals. I gave them time during masses for the advertising of the cookies and then I started to participate in the projects of this ⓃⒼⓄ.” But he didn’t stop there. Gomes learned about all the ᴀʙᴀɴᴅᴏɴᴇᴅ animals ʟɪᴠɪɴɢ in difficult situations around the city. To help the dogs find homes, he began to welcome them into the church and make them part of his services.
Father João Paulo brings his furry friends to the church service in hopes that they will be noticed. This is why every Sunday, the priest makes sure the dogs are in the center of attention, an honorable spot where everyone can see them. As loyal and as important they might look in front of the altar, dogs will be dogs and they are always in for some petting. Being excited and adorable as they are, pups often join the priest at the altar for some attention and belly rubs, and Father João never disappoints! Father Gomes includes them in his sermon in the hope that these lovable pups will find their new forever homes among his congregation.
Gomes said :” Caring for animals and nature as a whole is a great gesture of love for God, humanity and the planet. I began to adopt some animals who had been ᴍɪsᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴇᴅ, always with the support of volunteers. I and the volunteers have placed feeders outside the church, where sᴛʀᴀʏ pups can go to eat and drink fresh water. And the doors of church are always open for dogs in need of a rest. Still, I wishes could do more. What I do is just a drop of water in the face of the ᴍᴀɢɴɪᴛᴜᴅᴇ of the problem. I wish I could welcome all the animals, but we work with many ʟɪᴍɪᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴs. Everything I do depends on volunteers and volunteers who help me, so it’s not my merits but those people’s, too.”
Gomes’ good deeds have recently earned him a lot of attention on social media after a photo of him conducting mass with a sᴛʀᴀʏ dog by his side went viral. He hopes that his actions will raise awareness and inspire others around him to care, slowly making the world a better place. It’s sᴀғᴇ to say, as long as Gomes is around, the sᴛʀᴀʏ pups of Gravatá will always have a roof over their heads. In Gomes’ eyes, the church should be a sᴀғᴇ haven for everyone, animals included. He said:” We need to develop the perspective of compassion. Too much ᴠɪᴏʟᴇɴᴄᴇ , too much ᴀɢɢʀᴇssɪᴏɴ , and ᴀᴄᴄᴜsᴀᴛɪᴏɴ, diversity becomes the scene of war and sᴛʀᴜɢɢʟᴇ, and compassion is the only remedy.”