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All Creatures Great and Small Blessed at St. Luke's

SOMERS, N.Y. - October 4 is the official feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), esteemed for his love of animals and nature, his kindness and his tenderness. The Feast of St. Francis is sometimes celebrated with a “Blessing of the Animals.”

Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Somers traditionally acknowledges the event on the first Sunday of October by inviting all animals and their owners to attend a special service. “By blessing our pets this afternoon,” said the church bulletin, “we demonstrate God’s love for all Creation.”

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, about 150 humans assembled at Firemen’s Field with almost as many assorted animals. From there, they proceeded in an orderly “Parade of the Animals” to St. Luke’s.

At 3 p.m., Reverend Sandy Key, Rector of St. Luke’s, opened the outdoor service with a prayer and a reading from the Book of Genesis (1:1-5, 24-31). Monsignor Moore of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church continued the service, with a reading of Psalm 121 and some additional prayers. 

Then the humans brought their pets up, one by one, for benediction. “May God’s blessing be upon you,” said the clergymen, “and may you flourish in the care and joy of those whose lives you share.”

Eileen Vecchiariello, whose Shih Tzu, Bella Mia, “has been coming for years,” described her dog as “a house dog, a lap dog -- and a Christian dog.”

Ellen Starace brought her miniature Schnauzer, Half-Pint, for her first blessing ever. “I felt like getting her blessed, hoping that the blessing will keep her in good health for the rest of her life.”

Her friend, Eniko Nicolais, brought her half-Pomeranian/half-Beagle, just 10 weeks old. “She had to be blessed,” said Ms. Nicolais. “She’s my blessing.”

Sisters Ann-Marie Bury and Cathy Bednarczyk brought their two cats, siblings from the same litter. Bury’s cat, Maggie Mae, has had diabetes for six years. “I bring her every year,” Maggie Mae’s mom explained. “She’s doing well because Saint Francis watches over her. But I also give her insulin shots twice a day.”

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