A “Blessing of Animals” was held at Saint John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Rochester NY on Saturday, 4 October 2014. The parish’s Evangelism Task Force [ETF] delivered, by US Mail “Every Door Delivery,” over 2,400 invitations to residents within a half-mile radius of the church as an outreach of neighborly welcome. Parishioners were also asked to bring flyers to their neighbors, friends, and coworkers with a warm and welcoming invitation. A highlight for those attending was participation by members of the Mounted Unit of the Rochester Police Department.
The service of blessing featured the reading of scripture, traditional prayers and litany from the Book of Needs, singing (of course!), and sprinkling with Holy Water. The local newspaper featured the event in its Sunday edition with the headline: “Blessing Bestowed on the Mighty and the Meek.”
Several neighbors joined parishioners and Father Ken James Stavrevsky (parish rector) for the blessing, followed by a fellowship where hot chocolate and goodies were enjoyed. Some visitors also attended Great Vespers later that day and Divine Liturgy the following day (Sunday).
The following description was provided in the official news release sent to local media outlets and Rochester area churches:
The offering of blessings is significant and customary in the Orthodox Christian tradition. Reflecting the transforming and sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit within the Body of Christ, these blessings act as manifestations of God’s presence and activity in our lives as witnessed in everything we encounter in creation. Thus, we bless all sorts of things, dedicating and sanctifying them (and ourselves) to the glory of God and our loving communion with the Lord. To bless animals, especially our pets, is a realization that all things are gifts from above intended for our good and to our delight. As God’s children, the blessing bestows on us the obligation to be good and faithful stewards of that which has been given to us in love. In blessing our pets we make a commitment to care for the life (be it dog, cat, hamster, gecko, rabbit, bird, ferret, fish, pot belly pig, ???) entrusted to our care. The service of blessing involves the reading of Scripture, prayers of supplication, and the traditional sprinkling with Holy Water.
See the two-sided flyer/invitation delivered to neighbors residing near the church HERE!
The event was announced and featured on the parish website: