Public Notice: Loving the Pope

Is Frances the plural of Francis?

Public Notice

Everyone loves Pope Francis – from Stephen Colbert to John Boehner to Fidel Castro to Ken­tucky County Clerk Kim Davis. (Well, not U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar [R-Ariz.], who led a one-person walkout from the Congres­sional joint session, in protest of the Pope's stand against "environmental deterioration caused by human activity" – because, apparently, environmental deterioration has become a core conservative value. But that aside ....) Francis, the first Latin American pope, and the first Jesuit pope, has wowed just about everyone. His messages of openness in the Church hierarchy, and respect for all of God's creations, have given the Catholic Church a relevance it hasn't enjoyed in a half-century, and made Francis a rock star (a Google search for "Pope Francis" "Rock Star" yields 3,480,000 results, while "John Lennon" "Rock Star" gets about 426,000, so, who's bigger than Jesus now?).

Someday, the Church may even make Francis a saint. But he won't be the first St. Fran­cis, and he won't be the most famous, and he certainly won't be the staunchest environmentalist. Not by a long shot, because the one, the only, the man Pope Francis chose his name for, the man Wikipedia calls "one of the most venerated religious figures in history" – St. Francis of Assisi is in the house! (Actually, no, he's in a glass urn under the Lower Basilica in Assisi, after being hidden from Saracens for about 600 years, then dug up for examination by Pope Paul VI, but that's probably beside the point.)

The point is, this weekend is St. Francis' saint day. He's the patron saint of animals, the environment, Italy, and San Francisco, and he is said to have "loved all creatures great and small." And in his honor, the Austin Humane Society hosts a "Blessing of the Animals" starting at 11:30am Friday, Oct. 2, at 124 W. Anderson. Pastor Karl Gronberg of the Gethsemane Lutheran Church will perform a shelter blessing, lead students in song, and then walk from kennel to kennel, providing blessings to the shelter's homeless cats and dogs. And then, mirabile dictu, adopting hordes will descend upon AHS to fulfill the blessings, and bring forever homes to all those kittens and puppies.

Later, on Sunday, Catholics celebrate the Feast of St. Francis, which is presumably vegetarian in nature.


Meanwhile, in other news ...

ACL Festival Transportation. Here's a couple of smart options, that actually work:

• Capital Metro barely has to adjust their schedule at all to provide convenient festival service. The ACL shuttles leave from Republic Square Park, which is served by most of the major bus routes, including Night Owl and E-Bus service until about 3am Friday and Saturday. In addition, MetroRapid 803 goes directly to the Barton Springs Station on Lamar, as do local routes 3, 30, and 338.

• Austin B-cycle will again provide a front-gate valet service for users, starting at 10:30am each day of the festival, from some 50 B-stations throughout Austin's urban core. And to keep that system balanced, B-cycle is still looking for volunteers to work the festival; get membership discounts, vicarious fun, plus a gift bag from sponsors. Details at www.austinbcycle.com.

"We envision a society in which equal access to abortion is guaranteed for all, regardless of economic situation." The Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity helps Texans pay for their abortions when they can't afford them and advocates for change through the movement for reproductive justice. This year, for the first time, they'll be holding their 12th Annual Repro­duc­tive Equity Awards in Austin, along with San Antonio and Houston. The event – titled "Truth, Power, Justice" – is this Wednesday, Oct. 7, at Mercury Hall, 615 Cardinal Ln. They'll be honoring state Senator Sylvia Garcia and Austin Chronicle News Editor Mary Tuma, and we couldn't be prouder. Tickets are $25-$75; see more info at www.lilithfund.org/portfolio/events.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is the topic of this month's Building Bridges First Saturday Town Hall Meeting, with guest speakers from APD Victim Services and Family Violence Unit, and SafePlace. It's Saturday, Oct. 3, 1:30-3pm at Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex, 1156 Hargrave.

Seton Breast Care Center will kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month by hosting "Light the Town Pink: Rallying Breast Cancer Resources," a free event bringing together resources for women at all stages of their breast cancer journey: free lymphatic massages, physician and therapist presentations, exercise demonstrations, and more. Participants include the Breast Cancer Resource Center, American Cancer Society, and Texas Mamma Jamma Ride. Thursday, Oct. 1, 6-8pm at Seton Breast Care Center, 1201 W. 38th. Free, but register at lightthetownpink.eventbrite.com.

Mad Science Maelstrom is a special after-hours event at Yarborough Branch Library, 2200 Hancock Dr., this Friday, Oct. 2, from 7-9pm. This "vortex of Mad Science experiments, Minecraft, and creeptastic crafts" is a project of the Austin Public Library's Connected Youth Project, providing activities with a focus on technology, media, and developmental assets. Free for all, but recommended for ages 10-17.

Monday, Oct. 5, is the deadline to register or update your voting address in time for the November general election. If you can't find a registration form at a county tax office location – or at any ThunderCloud Subs, H-E-B, Alamo Drafthouse, library, college campus, or high school – the Austin Public Library will host a special Voter Registration Day on Sat., Oct. 3, at all its locations, with Volunteer Deputy Reg­is­trars on-site to help. Or go to www.traviscountytax.org to update your voting address online.

And then, just too late for that .... Become a Volun­teer Deputy Registrar, and help the Travis County Tax Office meet their ambitious goal of registering 90% of the county's eligible voters by the 2016 presidential election. Training sessions are Tue., Oct. 6, 10:30am, 12:30pm, or 6:30pm, at the Travis County Tax Office, 5501 Airport, and Sat., Oct. 10, 10am, at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, 4700 Grover. More info at www.traviscountytax.org.

Send gossip, dirt, innuendo, rumors, and other useful grist to nbarbaro@austinchronicle.com.

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