OMG! Pet blessing at New Utrecht Reformed Church

September 19, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Pastor E.J. Emerson, right, blesses Scarlett the Doberman Pinscher, whose owner, Frank Russo, brought the dog to New Utrecht Reformed Church. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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Bless the beasts of Bensonhurst.

Pastor E.J. Emerson gave personalized benedictions to darling dogs and a fabulous feline named Gray Pawel outside historic New Utrecht Reformed Church on Saturday, Sept. 17.

She conducted the church’s annual pet blessing ceremony on the vast lawn of the nearly two-century-old sacred site at 8301-8323 18th Ave.

“God has blessed us with the companionship of our pets,” she said to their owners, who gathered around her. “They love us unconditionally.”

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The pastor offered each animal a personal prayer and blessing. A Lab-pit mix named Isabel reciprocated by leaping up and kissing her.

Pet owners were pleased to get a dose of divine protection for their four-legged loved ones.

“I got him blessed to make him last a little longer,” Bensonhurst resident Bunny Bosco said of her dog Gemeni, who is 13 years old. “He’s up there in age. Either him or I go first.

“Animals are better than people,” Bosco added.

Ira Silverman came to the church with his beloved dog, Max, whom he had rescued from a shelter.

The sweet-faced canine has bad dreams because of the terrible things that were done to him by whoever originally owned him.

“He cries at night like a person,” Silverman said.

Pet blessing ceremonies are popular throughout New York City, where just about everybody’s crazy about canines and thinks felines are the cat’s meow.

The ceremonies are inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, the Catholic patron saint of animals and ecology. During his lifetime in 13th-Century Italy, St. Francis famously preached sermons to animals.  

New Utrecht Reformed Church, which is an individual city landmark, was constructed in 1828. Its façade is partly composed of stones brought from Holland as ship ballast in the 1600s.

Those stones were used to build the congregation’s very first church in 1700. It stood nearby, on what is now 84th Street. When it was demolished, the stones were transported to the current church’s location and used as construction material.    

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