This is such a heartwarming story!
For the past several years, Father João Paulo Araujo Gomes in the Brazilian parish of Santana Gravatá has been taking in abandoned dogs in his city.
Father Gomes bathes, feeds, and houses them in his rectory. Once the vet gives the all-clear after they’re treated for any health problems, he introduces them during Mass to help find their forever homes.
He says it all started when he became parish priest there in 2013.
“Some volunteers came to me selling cookies to help a project with stray animals. I gave them time during masses for the advertising of the cookies and then I started to participate in the projects of this NGO. I began to adopt some animals who had been mistreated, always with the support of volunteers.”
Outside the church, the stray pups of Gravatá have access to fresh water and food. The doors are always open for dogs that need some rest, too.
“They will always be able to enter, sleep, eat, drink their water and find shelter and protection, for this house is of God and they are of God. If I’m the greatest sinner I can enter — imagine these four-legged angels. Nobody touches my protected.”
He hopes his and the volunteer’s work will raise awareness and inspire others to care about all of creation.
“What I do is just a drop of water in the face of the magnitude of the problem. I wish I could welcome all the animals, but we work with many limitations. Everything I do depends on volunteers and volunteers who help me, so it’s not my merits but those people’s, too.
Caring for animals and nature as a whole is a great gesture of love for God, humanity and the planet. We need to develop the perspective of compassion. Too much violence, too much aggression and accusation, diversity becomes the scene of war and struggle, and compassion is the only remedy.”
Since the start of his unique charism, the number of abandoned dogs in Gravatá has gone down substantially, with hundreds finding loving homes.
Father Gomes couldn’t help but adopt some himself!
“I helped several dogs with serious health problems. Some of them I brought to the parish house and they were later adopted. Three of them stayed with me. Today, they are my children and sleep in my bed.”