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St. John's hosts annual animal blessing

October 11, 2017
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Dogs, cats and "pet parents" began to assemble under cloudy skies well before the Blessing of the Animals ceremony began Saturday morning at St. John's Episcopal Church on Stringfellow Road.

"This is the17th 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, the chairperson for the event.

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.

Article Photos

Janice O'Neill sits while Abby is blessed by The Rev. Ryan Wright of St. John's Episcopal 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 the new pastor at Pine Island United Methodist Church, Eric McCrea, officiated the ceremony.

"The tradition on Pine Island started approximately 15 or 16 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.

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

Stanley Lyle Lane was visiting from Fort Myers with his black Lab.

"This is Benny's first animal blessing," Lane said. "Although I'm not sure he knows he's a dog. This has been a real treat and if we're here next year, we'll be back."

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

For additional information about the annual Blessing of the Animals, please call St. John's Episcopal Church at 283-1820.



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