Pets of all sorts will receive a blessing at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church after the 8:30 bilingual Mass on Sunday, Oct. 2, in honor of the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.

All are welcome to bring their pets either in a carrier or on a leash. If you plan to attend Mass and you prefer to leave your pet in the car, it is recommended that you park on the north side of the building in the shade, or in the shade of the adjacent house. Those who do not plan to attend the service are asked to please be at the church a little before 9:30, in time for the blessing.

St. Francis of Assisi is one of the best known saints in the Catholic Church. Even non-Catholics are familiar with Francis, who is often referred to as “the bird bath saint.” Countless statues of him grace gardens around the world. Though recognized in the church as one of the great mystics of the 13th Century and a Doctor of the Church, those humble garden statues also reflect who he was.

There are many stories of St. Francis and animals. One tells of a wolf that was terrorizing a community until Francis turned the wolf into the town pet. It is also said that when he wasn’t preaching in a church, he was reported to preach to the animals. In another story, he was preaching outside to people and the birds were so noisy he couldn’t be heard. He asked the birds to be still and all the noise stopped until his sermon was over.

As a result of this history, St. Francis was named by the church as the patron saint of animals and of the environment. He is so respected that the current Pope, a Jesuit, chose the name Francis.

You can reach St. Joseph’s/San José Church by taking the Sandy Beach road past the condos, the dirt road out past Wrecked at the Reef and toward La Cholla/Cholla Bay. As the road winds into the community, the church is on the right and clearly marked.

Next month will mark the eighth year since the pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe announced that Mass would be held every week at the San José Chapel in La Cholla. In that time, it has gone from an abandoned cinder block shell with a deteriorating roof, no windows or doors, no power or water, to a comfortable and beautiful house of worship.

Over the last year, with support from visitors and locals, a two-story apartment was added to the back of the church for the new, full-time pastor, Father Marco Lopez.

If you would like more information about St. Joseph’s mission church in La Cholla, contact the church sexton Bob Keller by e-mail at:, by phone at 928-706-6928 or by mail at P.O. Box 297, Lukeville, AZ 85341-0297.

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Padre Marco Lopez gives the traditional Blessing of the Animals last year at St. Joseph’s/San José mission church in La Cholla/Cholla Bay. The event, which honor St. Francis of Assisi, will be on Oct. 2 this year and all are welcome.