Photos: Brooklyn pet blessings 2019
It’s said that Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals because he took diligent care of many living things. He’s even said to have hosted a donkey and an ox at the first nativity scene staged outside his hometown in the year 1220. He preached that protection over all living things on earth is a Christian obligation.
So for this weekend honoring St. Francis Day, worshipers from across Brooklyn brought many dogs, cats and at least one turtle to church. To promote good health and the general well-being of their pets, parishioners joined in prayers and blessings led by their ministries.
Many attendees acknowledged the spiritual relationships between their families and their animals. Ian Stalter visited St. John’s Episcopal Church in Park Slope with Sammy, his speckle coated 3-year-old mutt from the Dominican Republic. “He is such a blessing in our lives and I think having him has made me feel closer to God,” said Ian. “I want him to feel that blessing in return.”
The Reverend Shelley D. McDade of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Park Slope said of our custodial duties on earth: “The only reason we were created, according to scripture, was to take care of the animals and the plants.”
For a few worshippers, a sick or lost pet were at the forefront of their thoughts. Siblings Pilar Blanco and Juan Blanco brought an urn containing the remains of their cat ‘Cuqui’ so that the ashes could be blessed.
Kurt and Laurel from Sunset Park were hoping for greater health and longer life for their 15-year-old dog. After this many years, Kurt remarked, “you need all the help you can get.”
Mark Davis is a Brooklyn-based photojournalist. His work has appeared in Forbes, Bushwick Daily, and Brooklyn Magazine.