Animal blessings for the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

Dog-ma! Churches bless pets across Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Paper
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Barkers blessed: Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church congregant Phyllis brought her dog Caesar to the church steps for a dash of holy water.
Holy paws: Elizabeth Engelhart brought her pooch Kiwi to Saint Columbia Church in Marine Park to recieve a blessing from Deacon Fred.
Doggy Sunday: Father McGee of the Good Shepherd Church said a prayer for Elana Curiale’s pup Cody as he made the rounds at Sunday’s animal blessing.
Holy pup: Lucia was one of several dozen furballs sprinkled with holy water by Father McGee.
Hallelujah: The faithful flocked to Good Shepherd Church for the tradition.

Pet owners across the borough brought their furry friends to church over the weekend for the annual round of animal blessings, and one congregant said she was glad her pooch was finally on the same holy plane as her human kids.

“Just like my other children have gotten christened, it was nice to see the dog got a little blessing too,” said Elizabeth Engelhart of Marine Park, who took her shih tzu Kiwi for a sprinkle of holy water at Saint Columba Church.

Priests blessed parishioners’ animal friends — mostly dogs, but also birds and guinea pigs — in the name of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, on the same weekend as his Oct. 4 feast day.

For many observers who gathered to hold their dogs aloft on church grounds, the event was a way to honor beloved family members.

“I was raised Catholic and I believe that animals are God’s creatures and they bring us a lot of comfort and a lot of joy,” said Malissa Ambrose, whose pooch Lucia was blessed by Father McGee of the Good Shepherd Church in Marine Park.

Ambrose, who faithfully carted her now-late dog Romeo to the holy ritual before Lucia took over attendance, said the observance is a good for the critters’ spirits — especially those who are getting a bit long in the canine tooth.

“Maybe just like people, certain animals are not feeling well, are up there and getting older, and I think it’s a nice thing to do for them,” she said.

One Carroll Gardens congregant said the good father at her local parish blesses the two-legged owners as well as their four-legged friends — but her pup was blessed from the beginning.

“He is very blessed, because I’m his owner,” said Mireille Moorer of her Yorkie Neyo, who she nevertheless brings religiously to every annual animal blessing at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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