Padre João Paulo de Araujo Gomes is a priest at a church in Brazil and he has a kind heart for dogs. In fact, a homeless dog will always be by his side at the altar when he does his Sunday services.
It may be a small effort but it has made a big impact on the homeless dogs in Gravatá.
Gomes has always had a soft spot for animals so when he started working at the church in 2013 as a priest, he put his affection into action.
“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.”
Gomes heard about the difficult time dogs were having living on the streets in the city. He would welcome them to church to find them a home.
He also did what he could to help dogs that were injured or sick.
“I began to adopt some animals who had been mistreated … always with the support of volunteers,” Gomes said.
Feeders for the dogs have been placed outside of the church to help stray dogs get food and water. He always keeps the doors of the church open for dogs and he hopes he can 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.”
Gomes’ kindness has gone viral on social media when a photo of him with a dog started to circulate.
He hopes that what he has done will raise awareness and get other people motivated to do what they can as well.
“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.”
It’s nice that dogs will have a safe place as long as he continues to care for them.
“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.”