SOMERS, N.Y. – Pets and their owners congregated at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Sunday afternoon for an ecumenical blessing of the animals.
The event, which began with a parade from Firemen’s Field, entailed a brief service after which members of the clergy blessed a gaggle of cats, dogs and other furry friends.
According to the service program, this ceremony is not frivolous, as some might think, but meaningful. It represents one of the very tenets of the Christian church: God’s love for all creation.
"We hold this service because animals and pets are important to people, especially children, which we adults once were,” it reads. “The church says that what is important to children is also important to the church. By blessing our pets this afternoon, we demonstrate God's love for all creation.”
Somers resident Linda Marano brought Penny, her 17-year-old mixed-breed pup, to receive a blessing for the first time. Penny is getting on in years and lost her hearing a few years ago, Marano said, but she was still able to make it a good distance to the church for the ceremony.
”It’s a long walk for her age,” she said. Marano said she rescued Penny and one of her puppies 14 years ago from a farm, where the two were living in very poor conditions. The dogs were tied up 24/7, she said, and “they were basically starving.”
St. Luke’s Rev. Sanford A. Key and other clergymen said a short prayer over each animal, as pet owners lined up with their charges: “May God’s blessing be upon you and may you flourish in the care and joy of those whose lives you share.”
Sunday’s ceremony also featured some unusual animals beyond the typical roster of cats, dogs and rabbits.
Somers resident Will Wiegelman, 12, brought Tantongue, a corn snake, and his father Bill brought White Snake (“like the band,” he said), an albino king snake. “They’re very docile,” said Bill Wiegelman. The Blessing of the Animals service was the snakes’ first trip out in public.