Marine Park church blesses dozens of pets in animal blessing ceremony

Father Mark Simmons blessed Jillian Conigliaro’s dog at an annual animal blessing ceremony in Marine Park.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

They’re all god’s creatures!

A Marine Park church offered benedictions to dozens of Kings County canines on Saturday, leaving furballs and their owners feeling blessed

“It was nice,” said Gerritsen Beach resident Mike Manning. “All the dogs got along really well together.”

Manning brought his three dogs — Rex, Dekka, and Bently — seeking a little divine intervention at Good Shepherd Church’s prayer garden on Avenue S and Brown Street for the house of worship’s annual Blessing of the Animals on Oct. 5.

Maria Resciniti, Jo-Ann Fava and Diane Siracusa brought their dogs to be blessed by Father Mark Simmons.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

The dog-gone adorable blessing ceremony was meant as tribute to Saint Francis Assisi, the 13th century patron saint of animals — who inspires similar animal-blessing celebrations among catholic dog-owners around the world each year.

At the Marine Park event, Rev. Mark Simmons, the church’s parochial vicar, splashed holy water on around 50 local pups — along with one cat and a turtle.

“Grant that these animals may serve our needs, and that your bounty in the resources of this life may move us to seek more confidently the goal of eternal life,” the reverend intoned.

And while the tail-waggers sat patiently during the blessing ceremony, there is some debate about the eternal resting place for pups, according to the church’s pastor, who noted that the Bible offers no definitive ruling about doggy-heaven.

Mike Manning took his three dogs, Rex (left), Dekka (right), and Bentley to Good Shepherd Church’s animal blessing ceremony on Oct. 5.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

Still, some Christian leaders do believe each tail-wagger — and turtle — goes to the eternal promised land, according to the pastor.

“Pope Francis would encourage us to believe that our animals go to heaven,” Reverend Thomas Doyle claimed.

So while it remains unclear whether the pets secured a spot in heaven during Saturday’s blessing, they were very well-behaved — perhaps currying favor with the almighty creator.

“Things were calm,” said Doyle. “None of them left any surprises in the prayer garden.”

Linda Oshaughnessy brought her dog, Jax, to Saturday’s ceremony.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

Reach reporter Rose Adams at radams@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–8306. Follow her on Twitter @rose_n_adams

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