Meet Father João Paulo Araujo Gomes!

He’s the pastor of the Santana parish in Gravatá, a Catholic church in Brazil that lets dogs needing homes attend Sunday mass in the hopes someone will want to adopt them.

Every Sunday, this kindly priest brings in dogs from the street and lets them stay for the whole service.

The presence of the dogs helps bring people to mass if only to hang out with the dogs.

To show them off, Father João keeps them up front at the altar. Everyone can see how adorable they are there. And, if they need a few pats on the head or belly, Father João happily obliges, even in the middle of mass.

Father João Paulo also houses the dogs at the rectory to keep them safe and clean.

Father João Paulo once wrote on his Facebook page,

“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 likes to encourage the parishioners to invite people to attend mass. His example of the compassion he displays in their church makes people open their hearts to others.

So many of them have come to him broken, alone and starved for love, Father Gomes has even adopted a few of them.

Father João Paulo has found families for dozens of dogs, and after a few days of food, care and affection, they become different animals, ready to trust and ready for a new home.

It’s no surprise that every year, in honor of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, faithful Catholics bring their pets to church for a blessing from their priests.

At Paróquia de Sant’Ana Gravatá, every Sunday is a blessing for these pets!