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Blessing of the Animals

St. John's hosts annual event

October 8, 2014
By ED FRANKS ( ) , Pine Island Eagle

Saturday morning, despite threatening weather, a crowd of about 75 people began arriving at St. John's Episcopal Church on Pine Island to have their animals blessed. This custom is conducted in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi's love for all creatures.

About 100 chairs were set up under the massive oak tree on the church grounds as people gathered with their pets. Dogs, cats and even a macaw waited patiently for the clergy: the Rev. Ryan Wright of St. John's Episcopal Church, Father Michael Hughes of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and Pastor Roger Lemke of Fisher's of Men Lutheran Church.

The tradition on Pine Island started 14 years ago with the Rev. Cobb.

Article Photos

Father Michael Hughes of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church blesses a dog.


The Rev. Wright opened the ceremony by thanking everyone for being there and delivering the opening acclamation. Father Hughes then delivered the prayer of Thanksgiving, and Pastor Lemke delivered the prayer of stewardship.

Reading from Colossians 1:16, James 1:17, the Rev. Wright said, "... we give you thanks, especially for the gift of the creatures with which we share this life. Through them you aid, comfort strengthen, and bring joy to our lives. Accept our praise for your great goodness, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."

Pastor Lemke offered the prayer of stewardship. "Almighty God, You have entrusted to humanity the stewardship of your creation and all your creatures. We ask that you would enlighten our minds with the wisdom, grace our hearts with the compassion and enable our hands with every facility necessary to be faithful to this task. Manifest your mercy in your animal kingdom today, Lord to protect and provide for your creatures everywhere ..."

Reverend Wright offered the closing prayer and each of the three clergy members went into the crowd to bless the animals.

Stephen Clay brought his blue and gold macaw, "Mr. Dude."

"We're here to receive the blessing for our macaw - we came last year also. Mr. Dude is about 15 years old and these birds can live up to 100 years."

Father Michael Hughes blessed the bird.

John C. Mayers brought his dog Max.

"We traveled from the Cape and this is Max's first blessing," Mayers said. "He's got a lot of mischief in him and I'm hoping this helps."

St. Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni di Pietro Bernardone, was an Italian Catholic Friar and preacher. Though he was never ordained to the Catholic priesthood, St. Francis is one of the most idolized people in Catholic history. St. Francis of Assisi has popularly become known as the patron saint of animals. His statue is usually shown with him holding a small dish with a bird drinking and a fox at his feet.

The ladies of St. John's sponsored a bake sale before and after the blessing. Hot dogs, chips, soft drinks and water were served.



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