Oh howl-y day! Brooklynites get their pets blessed at annual ‘Blessing of the Animals’

Not a bark was heard outside of St. Anselm Roman Catholic Church, where Father Anthony Alimnonu blessed parishioners’ furry friends on Oct. 2.
Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

Blessings “fur” the whole family!

Members of the Catholic church celebrated the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi this weekend by taking their pets to get blessed.

Parishes across the borough opened their doors to pet owners during the annual “Blessing of the Animals,” during which Brooklynites’ furry friends are officially welcomed into the church. 

John Quaglione, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Diocese, said this year’s pet blessings were especially anticipated as many church-goers were unable to celebrate last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“This year was special. People were able to come to the parish with their dogs or cats … and they were able to receive a special blessing,” Quaglione told Brooklyn Paper. “It was nice to see people taking time out of their day to bring their pets out.”

Participating parishes included St. Patrick’s, St. Athanasius, and Our Lady of Angels. Pets were also blessed outside of St. Anselm in Bay Ridge, where Father Anthony Alimnonu waited outside to greet and bless both the animals and their owners.

Father Anthony Alimnonu gets to know the newest member of St. Anselm Roman Catholic Church.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

The event is so important, he said, because many members of the church value their pets as “a gift from God.”

“Families are built around pets. Pets are the center of the universe of many families and it’s nice to see that they bring their pets with them for this special blessing. For the year ahead, for health and to continue to bring joy to [them],” said Quaglione.

The yearly dedication commemorates the life of St Francis, who was born in the 12th century and is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment. His feast day is celebrated annually by the Catholic Church on Oct. 4.

“This is a celebration and a chance to give God thanks for the blessing of [their] animals,” said Quaglione.