TO mark her first year as the priest of St Paul’s in Beaconsfield, Gemma Baseley will be holding a special pet blessing service in the amphitheatre on the church grounds.
It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for the colourful English ex-pat who emigrated to Australia in 2021 – she was quarantined for months in NSW, then got married and weeks later took up her new post at St Paul’s.
Rev’d Baseley is an animal lover and brought her beloved pooch Maggie over from England to join her in Australia.
She says she’s never done a pet blessing before – they’re normally held in rural parishes – but St Paul’s is celebrating Creation Season so she decided to bless some furry and fluffy friends in the picturesque amphitheatre on Saturday October 1.
“The date coincides with the day we remember St Francis, and he was such a lover of nature and animals and it all just seemed to fall into place,” Rev’d Baseley says.
“In short it will be a very relaxed informative ‘service’ where we come together to celebrate all that our pets bring to our lives and ask God’s blessing on them. Plus there will be cake and pet treats.
“So, just as long as we keep the dogs away from the cats and the snakes away from the little furry friends, what could possibly go wrong!”
To strengthen the connection between St Paul’s and the local community, Rev’d Baseley will be opening the church grounds for a community garden party on Saturday October 15 with afternoon tea, a glass of fizz, and a workshop to make rag rugs to send to Pinjarra as part of the Reclaim the Void project.
They’ll also be items like poppy seeds and cards on sale to raise funds to help rebuild the west wall of the church.
Rev’d Baseley says she’s had an eventful and memorable first year preaching in WA.
“I blessed the entire Indian Ocean when I did a baptism in the sea and I have been privileged to form friendships with people seeking asylum, who find themselves incarcerated in the detention centre at Perth Airport,” she says.
“Celebrating Christmas Day in 42 degree heat was quite something…along with trying to figure out how to keep live sheep cool, during our outdoor nativity play (thank you Farmer Damian!). I have had an incredible welcome by our local Aboriginal elders and I will be forever grateful for the invitation to say mass at the water’s edge on Wadjemup a few weeks ago.”
But she does, naturally, feel a bit homesick now and again, and got a bit teary-eyed when she heard the Queen had passed away.
“Gosh I was so sad when the Queen died and I’m definitely no royalist. I think it was just delayed home sickness!” she says.
For more info on the pet blessing service and the church garden party see stpaulsbeaconsfield.org.au
by STEPHEN POLLOCK