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St. John's hosts annual animal blessing

October 17, 2018
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Dogs, cats and even a macaw all gathered for the annual pet blessing Saturday morning Oct. 6 at St. John's Episcopal Church on Stringfellow Road.

"This is the 18th annual Blessing of the Animals, which brings together pet owners and animal lovers to share in fellowship and for an opportunity for their furry and feathered friends to receive prayers intended just for them," said Jane Bennington, chairperson of the event at St. John's Episcopal Church.

The annual event is a day set aside and dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, regarded world-wide as the patron saint of animals and the environment.

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Pastor Roger Lemke of Fishers of Men Lutheran Church, the Rev. Ryan A Wright, vicar of St. John's Episcopal Church, Pastor Eric McCrea of Pine Island United Methodist Church and Father Jacek Mazur of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Catholic Church.


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.

About 100 chairs were set up under the massive oak tree on the church grounds as people gathered with their pets. The Rev. Ryan Wright of St. John's Episcopal Church, Father Jacek Mazur of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Catholic Church, Pastor Roger Lemke of Fishers of Men Lutheran Church and pastor Eric McCrea from Pine Island United Methodist Church officiated the ceremony.

"The tradition on Pine Island started about 18 years ago with the Rev. Cobb," St. John's parishioner Sonny Koutsoutis said. "Not that many years ago, we had people show up with their birds, tortoises and even horses."

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

Stephen Clay brought his macaw, "Mr. Dude."

"We've come to several of these," Clay said. "We missed last year but made it a point to get here this year. Mr. Dude is about 17 years old and these birds can live up to 100 years."

Father Michael Hughes blessed the bird.

Once the ceremony concluded, each pet received a personalized certificate indicating that they have received a blessing.

Hot dogs, chips, soft drinks and water were available. Pet medals for cats and dogs with a special animal blessing were also offered for sale.



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