Parish helps priest with service dog

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - It might be Francis the dog's first Christmas with father jack.

But he's already making a big impression.

'He'll paw me sometimes his nose will get very wet,' says Father Jack Siefert, parish priest at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church.  'Or at night when he's in his kennel next to my bed, if my diabetes becomes unstable, he will bang on that kennel door until I wake up.'

He's an alert dog assisting like saint Francis of Assisi.

But this pup is named after the pope instead.

And this Christmas he's brought hope to this parish.

'Once a month I have these diabetic episodes where I have these convulsions and usually it happens in the middle of the night,' says Siefert.  'They're very, not good for the body.  They're painful and they're dangerous.

'Father had a really bad episode one day and it was when we were at Adoration,' says Kathy Wiseman, Principal St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School.  'I don't like to see when he got that sick.'

So St. Mary Magdalen grade school Principal Kathy Wiseman decided to help her humble parish leader who had just celebrated his 25th anniversary as a priest in June.

'High blood sugars that can lead to complications with the eyes, the heart, the kidney and neuropathy' says Siefert.

Parishioners opened their hearts and wallets to purchase the $25,000 dog.

In September, with the scent of a saint, Francis the black lab arrived.

'I have not had convulsions or diabetic episodes since August before he came so he works,' says Siefert.

This dog's nose knows when Father Jack needs a helping hand or paw with his type one diabetes.

'He needed Francis,' says Wiseman.  'Francis came and he's been a blessing.  He's truly been a blessing.'

'God provided,' says Siefert.  'He provides the answers.  It's just that we have to be patient enough and humble enough to find out the answers.  But they're here and he's one of them and it works.'

And this father's first Christmas with his new best friend, might be one he'll never forget.

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