Blessing of the Animals
Early Saturday morning, despite threatening weather, a crowd of about 75 to 100 arrived at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Pine Island to have their animals blessed. This custom is conducted in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures.
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 Michael Hughes of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and Pastor Roger Lemke of Fisher’s of Men Lutheran Church were there to officiate.
The tradition on Pine Island started approximately 15 years ago with the the Rev. Cobb.
The Rev. Wright opened the ceremony by thanking everyone for attending and delivering the opening acclamation. Father Hughes then delivered the prayer of thanksgiving, and Pastor Lemke delivered the prayer of stewardship.
Reading from the prayer of thanksgiving, the Rev. Hughes said, “… we give you thanks, especially for the gift of the creatures with which we share this life. Through them you aid, comfort, strengthen and bring joy to our lives. Accept our praise for your great goodness, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”
Pastor Lemke offered the prayer of stewardship.
“Almighty God, You have entrusted to humanity the stewardship of your creation and all your creatures. We ask that you would enlighten our minds with the wisdom, grace our hearts with the compassion and enable our hands with every facility necessary to be faithful to this task. Manifest your mercy in your animal kingdom today, Lord to protect and provide for your creatures everywhere …”
The Rev. Wright offered the closing prayer and each of the three clergy members went into the crowd to bless the animals.
Robert Kuyoth brought his wolfhound / German shepherd mix all the way from Cape Coral.
“I have A.J. here today for the blessing,” Kuyoth said. “I try to take him every year and just enjoy coming here to Pine Island.”
Pastor Roger Lemke blessed AJ.
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.
Hot dogs, chips, soft drinks and water were served.