Over the weekend, churches across the borough became animal houses of worship.
Catholics and Episcopalians marked the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi on Oct. 4 and 5. The celebration honors the nature-loving missionary who lived as a vagrant under the big sky, preaching peace among all beings, including the furry, feathered, and scaly varieties. These days pet-owning devotees mark the holiday by lining up before a priest to get their best friends blessed. The ritual isn’t quite as weighty as those for humans, but it is holy nonetheless, a priest explained.
“Saint Francis was a man whose life turned around and he dedicated himself to poverty, the church, and all of nature,” said Father Michael McGee, of the Good Shepherd Church in Marine Park. “We don’t bless animals like we bless people, but we do ask for good health and for god to watch over them.”
McGee said he has been blessing animals for as long as he has been ordained a priest, and while the vast majority of animals showing up to be blessed are dogs, he has also given blessings to the occasional ferret, snake, and iguana. Cats show up sometimes too, he said, but they keep their own schedule.
“Cats are always late,” he said.