Unlike last year, when because of the pandemic, masks and social distancing were the rule, the turnout was much larger, absent a horse, alpaca, hamsters, mice and so forth.
On Sunday, Oct. 3, owners, mostly with their dogs and a few cats in carriers, arrived at the Church of St. Stephen, the First Martyr, for the annual “Blessing of Animals.”
It is not uncommon for children and adults, in addition to cats and dogs, to bring all kinds of pets, large and small. And in the past at St. Stephen’s, that has included horses, hamsters, fish, turtles, chickens, rabbits, alpacas and even an Australian Bearded Dragon lizard.
St. Stephen’s P\pastor, the Rev. Jack Arlotta, has even recalled that a tarantella and a can of worms were among the most unusual pets brought to him in previous years.
Arlotta, assisted by Parochial Vicar Rev. Reynor Santiago, began the ceremony with a prayer and a reading from the Book of Genesis and then blessed each animal individually.
This event is held each year in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the 12th century patron saint of animals and the environment. A host of stories that surround his life deal with his love for all creatures.
The Feast Day of St. Francis is Oct. 4 and many Christian churches throughout the country, both Catholic and Protestant, conduct animal blessings on or about that day each year.
- Roger Gavan