Blessing of animals slated

B y Adam Cook

Every year, creatures across the nation are blessed by priests to celebrate the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi on Oct. 4.

Local churches are hosting ceremonies to bless pets this year as well.

St. Francis, who was reportedly known to love all of God’s creatures, preached sermons to animals, and praised all creatures as brothers and sisters under God.

The ceremonies typically include a verbal blessing and administering of holy water. All animals are welcome at these events – with creatures from dogs to horses welcome to receive the blessings.

For those wanting to have their pets blessed, here are some of the churches that are hosting ceremonies:

Granville

St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church is again hosting a Blessing of the Animals ceremony on Saturday, Oct 6. at noon.

“All are invited with their pets,” Father Joe Arockiasamy said last year. “All animals.”

Father Arockiasamy has blessed local animals at St. Mary’s for eight years now.  Blessings typically consist of a verbal prayer, reading from the scripture, and sprinkling of holy water.

St. Mary’s is located at 23 Bulkley Ave. in Granville. Typically, the blessing takes place outside the church with a group photo of owners and their pets after the ceremony.

For more information, call St. Mary’s at 518-642-1262.

Shushan

The Shushan Churches also are hosting a Blessing of the Animals event on Saturday, Oct. 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Shushan Memorial Park. All animals must be leashed and all pet owners are welcome. For more information, call 518 321-7747.

Poultney

St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in Poultney, Vermont, is hosting their Blessing of the Animals event on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 9 a.m.

“We will say a prayer for the animals and for the families who bring the animals, and we will bless them with the holy water,” Father Lourduraja Simeone said last year. The ceremony is expected to be the same this year.

This is Father Simeone’s third year doing this event- and his third year as the pastor at St. Raphael’s. In 2016, 10 animals were blessed. Last year, Simeone said that because St. Francis was with animals, the church planned to have a special day for the animals.

The brief ceremony includes a verbal prayer and holy water. Animals are typically blessed together.

The church is located at 21 E Main St. in Poultney. For more information, call 802 287-5703.

Cambridge

The New Skete Monasteries at 273 New Skete Lane in Cambridge invites people and their pets to receive the blessing of the animals on Sept. 29. Participants are asked to arrive at 2 p.m., with the blessing service starting at 3:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Please be advised that all animals must be on a leash or in a secure pen for the safety of both participants and their pets. For more information, call 518 677-3928 ext. 214.

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church will also be hosting a ‘Blessing of the Animals’ service as well on Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. at 17 S. Park St. in Cambridge. For more information, call 518 677-2757.

Rutland

Good Shepherd Church & Little Lambs at 6 Church Hill Road in Rutland, Vermont will also be hosting a blessing of the animals service Saturday, Sept. 29 at 5:30 p.m. All animals – including stuffed animals – are welcome to attend this service. Animals should be on a leash or in a carrier. The service will take place on the lawn of the church and will be moved indoors if it rains.

Salem

The Holy Cross Church in Salem will be hosting a “Blessing of the Animals” service on Sept. 30 at 3 p.m. at 247 S. Main St. in Salem. For more information, call 518 854-7626.

Wells

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Wells, Vermont will again host their blessing of the animals ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 7. But according to Rev. William Davidson, instead of hosting the ceremony in the afternoon like they did the past few years, they will be holding it right during the service at 9 a.m. Davidson said that families seemed to have trouble with bringing their pets back to church in the afternoon.

“This way, they’ll either bring the dog or cat, or animal, to church, or a picture of it, or a drawing of it, and we’ll do it right in the middle of the Eucharist,” he said. Davidson also said it is important for pets to be blessed.

“It’s important because it actually gets people to think how important pets are,” he said. He also said it was important because it gets adults and children to think about the creation- and how important it is to take care of the environment.

He says that sometimes people will bring pictures of a pet who has passed away.

“That’s been very moving, because we’ve been able pray and have God bless the person and give thanks for the pet,” he said. “That’s been a very important thing for some people.”

All animals are welcome- dogs, cats, even the occasional iguana- but there’s one animal he hasn’t seen yet.

“We have not had, however, anybody whose brought a cow yet,” he said, laughing.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is located at 7 East Wells Road in Wells, Vermont. For more information, call Davidson at 518 499-1850.

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