Dogs of all sizes, a few cats and a bunny gathered with their owners at St. John's Episcopal Church early Saturday afternoon to be a part of a day dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, who is known as the world-wide patron saint of animals and the environment.
Chairs were set up under shade trees in the front of the church during the 12th annual Blessing of the Animals, while the Rev. Ryan A. Wright, vicar of St. John's, Father Michael Hughes from Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church and Pastor Roger Lemke of Fishers of Men Lutheran Church led the service.
After the opening acclamation, prayer of thanksgiving, prayer of stewardship and the closing prayer were recited, Wright, Hughes and Lemke walked around blessing all the animals that made the day special. After the blessing took place, their owners received a personalized certificate indicating that their animal had been blessed.
Storm, a 6-year-old pure black Labrador attended the 12th Annual Blessing of the Animal at St. John’s Episcopal Church Saturday.
Those animals that could not make the blessing were also blessed if the owner brought a photograph of them.
Storm, a 6-year-old pure black Labrador, attended the blessing with her owners, Nick and Chris Castelluccio, who moved to the island last October.
Chris said they love Storm very much and wanted to make sure God gave her a little blessing.
Patch, a 14-year-old Jack Russell, also attended the Blessing of the Animals Saturday with his owner, Greg Smith. They have attended the past few years. The very active Jack Russell, Smith said, has been bit twice by a rattlesnake, along with receiving more than 80 stitches over his lifetime.
Patch accompanies Smith on all of his fishing trips and boat excursions, along with traveling with him where ever he goes.
Fred, a rescue from Hurricane Charley, also attended the event with his owner, Joanne Susce. The basset hound, which Susce believes is 12 years old, spends four months in Massachusetts visiting his cousin Walter, another basset hound.
Susce said she thinks the Blessing of the Animals event was wonderful.
"It is very nice they do this and I think the dogs like it, too," she said.
Lemke said it was enjoyable meeting all the dogs on Saturday, as well as a few cats.
The ceremony, he said, attracted about the same amount as the previous year.
In years past, Lemke said the ceremony attracted a load of horses, birds and critters.
Food was also served after the ceremony was completed, providing a chance for the animals and their owners to visit with others who live on the island.