CNJ staff photo: Benna Sayyed Cleo, a Chinese pug, receives a blessing with owner Deedra Hines by Father Allen Brockmeier of the St. James Episcopal Church at Saturday’s pet blessing event at Trinity Lutheran Church.
Merle could hardly sit still for his first blessing at church.
At 3 months old, Merle was abandoned in the backyard of a local pet grooming shop. Today, the 6-month-old German Shepard mix is full of life and not the least bit shy.
He was among a handful of lively dogs to be blessed by local pastors Saturday at the Trinity Lutheran Church’s fifth annual pet blessing.
“Merle is extremely energetic, and we we’re hoping that it (the blessing) would just help him through life,” said Jennifer Ray, Merle’s owner. “With most people, their animals are like their kids, and people have their kids blessed. I don’t see why the animals shouldn’t be blessed as well.”
According to Rev. Bonita Knox of Trinity Lutheran Church, October is the time of year when people remember St. Francis of Assisi, who felt a deep spiritual connection to all of God’s creations.
St. Francis felt a divine relationship with animals, referred to them as his brothers and sisters and included them in his songs, sermon and poems.
During the blessing, one pastor visited each dog and, placing a hand on its head, recited a prayer for the pet and owner’s well being.
“As pet owners care for their pets, they too receive blessings. We’re in a mutual relationship between owner and pet, so each receives a blessing,” said Knox.
“As God has blessed us and God has blessed creation, then God is blessing us to care for creation. This is very important. We just can’t dismiss God’s good creation and our responsibility in caring for God’s creation,” she said.
Knox said that, although pet blessings usually attract dogs, all animals are welcome. In the past, Trinity Lutheran has also had cats, goats and a hamster or two in attendance.
Cleo, an 8-year-old Chinese pug, received her first blessing from Father Allen Brockmeier of St. James Episcopal Church.
“This helps me as a pet owner, because some of us love our pets like they’re part of our family,” said Cleo’s owner, Deedra Hines. “Those of us who pray, pray for everything that’s in our belonging that we care for.”