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Our blessed friends: Pets visit church through the doggy door

Brooklyn Daily
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Photo gallery

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LITTLE ANGEL: Priest Michael McGee prays for Princess, a Bichon Frise, as owner Rosemary Clifford looks on.
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HOLY SHEPHERD: Jake, a German shepherd mix, with his owner Steven Coluccio of Midwood at the Blessing of the Animals on Oct. 5 at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Windsor Terrace.
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OUT OF ITS SHELL: A girl holds Miss Turtle at the Blessing of the Animals at Church of the Holy Apostles.
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HOP TO IT: April Mata of Staten Island holds Finn, her dwarf rabbit, at the Windsor Terrace blessing of the animals.
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SPECIAL FRIEND: Priest Sarah Kooperkamp gets a kiss from her dog Job.
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BLESSED BEAGLE: Priest Sarah Kooperkamp prays over Nian, a beagle mix.
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RUH ROH: Elaine Wilkinson keeps a grip on her pooch Riley McWolf as Pastor David Rommereim administers the blessing at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Bay Ridge on Oct. 4.
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CAT’S THE TICKET: Kristin Wilson holds her confused cat Squakers as pastor David Rommereim gives it the divine touch.

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.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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