Blessed in the garden
Fr. Andrew Garnett performed the blessing of the animals this year, which was a first for him.


Blessed in the garden


WEST ISLIP—Canines and felines, rabbits and turtles were brought by loving families to the annual Blessing of the Animals in the Fr. Joe Lukaszewski Garden behind Our Lady of Lourdes R.C. Church last Sunday. The event, which has been taking place at the West Islip church for more than a decade, was in honor of the Oct. 4 Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis (1182-1226) was an Italian monk who founded the Franciscan Order. His love of animals was noted in his writing, specifically in the Canticle of the Creatures, an ode to God’s living things where he acknowledged the special bond between people and other species.

That special bond was obvious during the ceremony that was presided over by Fr. Andrew Garnett, who, as a priest for a mere four months, was officiating at the event for the very first time. In his homily, he gave thanks to the Almighty “for allowing us to share the Earth with these creatures.”

Assunta Morales kept an eye on her 2-year-old son Dante as he held onto his dog Harley-Pappilion’s leash. Although now calmer, she said her little dog had high energy. “He needs all of the blessings he can get,” she remarked facetiously.

“I miss this every year because I’d find out about it too late,” said Paula Turchiano of West Islip, who brought along her 3-year-old granddaughter Elodie to see her Chihuahua, Poppi, receive the blessing. “I said, ‘this year we have to go.’”

Debbie Nikl helped her friend Christine Halverson with her two yellow Labs, Sasha and Holly, who are therapy dogs for children’s literacy and for veterans as well. Halverson noted that she and her pets attend the event every year for a very good reason: “Can’t we all use some blessings?”