St. Stephen's Parish holds Blessing of Animals in honor of St. Francis of Assisi
Photos by Roger Gavan
Grace Morgiewiz, 12, brought her pet chicken, "Salt."
WARWICK — A larger than usual variety of pets, including cats and dogs, a turtle, a chicken, a rabbit and even an Australian Bearded Dragon lizard, along with their owners enjoyed mild temperatures for the annual "Blessing of Animals" on Sunday, Oct. 7. The ceremony took place outside the main entrance to Warwick's Church of St. Stephen, the First Martyr. This event is held each year in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the 12th century patron saint of animals and the environment. A host of stories that surround his life deal with his love for all creatures. The Feast Day of St. Francis is Oct. 4 and many Christian churches throughout the Country, both Catholic and Protestant, conduct animal blessings on or about that day each year. St. Stephen's pastor, the Rev. Jack Arlotta, began the ceremony with a prayer and a reading from the Book of Genesis and then blessed each animal individually. He also brought a box of dog bone biscuits but cautioned the children that they were meant to be eaten only by their pets. It is not uncommon, especially in good weather, for children and adults to bring all kinds of pets, large and small. And in the past that has included horses, hamsters, fish and alpacas in addition to dogs and cats. Arlotta has even recalled that a tarantella and a can of worms were among the most unusual pets brought to him in previous years. - Roger Gavan