5 min read

Priest Does The Kindest Thing For The Stray Dogs Around His Church

This is incredible 👏

At a church in Brazil, a homeless dog always joins the priest on the altar during mass. Padre João Paulo de Araujo Gomes makes sure dogs have a place of honor every Sunday — one where all the congregation can see them.

It’s a small action, but it has made a big difference for the forgotten dogs of Gravatá.

Dog on pulpit during mass
Facebook/Padre João Paulo de Araujo Gomes

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.

“Some volunteers came to me selling cookies to help a project with stray animals,” Gomes told The Dodo. “I gave them time during masses for the advertising of the cookies and then I started to participate in the projects of this NGO.”

Facebook/Padre João Paulo de Araujo Gomes

Gomes learned about all the abandoned animals living 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.

But he didn’t stop there. Wanting to lead by example, he welcomed stray dogs into his own home and helped to nurse critically ill animals himself.

“I began to adopt some animals who had been mistreated ... always with the support of volunteers,” Gomes said.

A stray dog for adoption at church
Facebook/Padre João Paulo de Araujo Gomes

Gomes and the volunteers have placed feeders outside the church, where stray pups can go to eat and drink fresh water. And the doors of his church are always open for dogs in need of a rest. Still, Gomes wishes he could do more.

“What I do is just a drop of water in the face of the magnitude of the problem," Gomes said. "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.”

Priest Gomes helps a stray dog find a home during mass
Facebook/Winfried Niederer

Gomes' good deeds have recently earned him a lot of attention on social media after a photo of him conducting mass with a stray 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.

Priest pets a dog during mass
Facebook/Padre João Paulo de Araujo Gomes

“Caring for animals and nature as a whole is a great gesture of love for God, humanity and the planet," he said. "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."

A dog seeks shelter in a church in Brazil
Facebook/Padre João Paulo de Araujo Gomes

It's safe to say, as long as Gomes is around, the stray pups of Gravatá will always have a roof over their heads. In Gomes' eyes, the church should be a safe haven for everyone — animals included.

“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," he wrote on Facebook. "If I'm the greatest sinner I can enter — imagine these four-legged angels. Nobody touches my protected.”

To learn more about Padre João Paulo de Araujo Gomes, you can follow him on Facebook.