Blessing of the Animals 2017

Franciscans from around the world celebrate both the Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi (on October 3rd) and his Feast Day (on October 4th). For Franciscans, Transitus marks the night Francis left his earthly life, to move onto a life in heaven with Our Lord Jesus. He died, on the evening of October 3, 1226, a small man in his forties who had wanted to live a simple life in service to God. Traditionally Saints’ Feast Days mark the date of death and are remembered with special mention, prayers, and scripture readings.  For us, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4th is so much more. It is a day filled with celebration and joy. We mark the days surrounding the Feast Day with the blessing of animals, gathering for meals and enjoying the fellowship of our brothers and those we serve. Just as with all of the saints, it is the day Francis obtained Eternal Life.
This year, on the Sunday prior to the Feast Day (October 1, 2017), friars from throughout our province gave the traditional Blessing of Animals; a simple act that helps us share the charism of St. Francis by blessing these special “companions” of those we serve. It is always a source of great joy for our friars and it was wonderful to have others who serve through several of our special ministries there to join in the fun.

Friar John Ruffo, OFM Conv. was able to bless one of the coolest companions of the day! (The Church of St. Catharine of Siena – Seaside Park, NJ)

Friar Joe Dorniak, OFM Conv. enjoyed the day as the “little ones” gathered around. (Our Lady of the Visitation – Dublin, Ireland)

Friar Nader Ata, OFM Conv. had a very attentive friend receive a blessing. (Franciscan Church of the Assumption – Syracuse, NY)

The FrancisCorps ’19 Volunteers who serve in Syracuse, got in on the action, as one of the smallest companions, Zenith the hedgehog was waiting for a blessing, at our Franciscan Church of the Assumption.

Our National Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine had Deacon Michael Ryba, of nearby St. Stanislaus Parish come and bless our pilgrims’ companions, while enjoying the beautiful day on our picturesque site, in Fonda, NY.

At our other province shrine location, the Shrine of St. Anthony, in Ellicott City, MD, Friar Dennis Mason, OFM Conv. and Friar Michael Heine, OFM Conv. blessed many companions for pilgrims.

Fr. Carl Zdancewicz, OFM Conv., pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church (Winston Salem, NC) enjoyed blessing all sorts of family pets, as parishioners gathered on the October 4, 2017 Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi

Fr. Joe Angelini, OFM Conv – pastor emeritus of Our Lady of Mercy Church (Winston Salem, NC) and Friar Carl gathered with a crowd of parishioners to celebrate the October 4th Feast Day

Fr. Paul Lininger, OFM Conv. serves as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Community (Burlington, NC). On Friday, October 6th, the parish school, Blessed Sacrament School, held a Blessing of the Animals with Friar Paul. Families met on the front lawn with their beloved pets and Father Paul blessed dogs, cats, hamsters, bunnies, and even a reptile! It was a joyous event!