NEW BRITAIN - Members of a city congregation were joined by their four-legged family members at church Sunday.
The Rev. Margret Hofmeister of the First Church of Christ Congregational on Corbin Avenue invited pets to a special event known as the Blessing of the Animals.
Two cats and 13 dogs accompanied their families. Most belonged to church members, but a few were outsiders who heard about the opportunity to have their beloved animals recognized through the love of Christ.
St. Francis of Assisi preached sermons to animals in the 12th century. Hofmeister said she holds the patron saint of animals dear in her ministry.
“The blessing of the animals is to honor St. Francis and our pets,” she said. “They bring us so much joy and it’s important to recognize the role they play in our lives.”
Mabel, her Pembroke Welsh corgi, ran around the church’s playground with the other dogs after Sunday’s event.
“It’s nice to see all of the dogs and cats together,” pointed out Emma Lewko, 15.
This was the fourth year First Church held the blessing.
A 2-year-old “golden doodle” named Finn licked the pastor as she put her hand on his head to bless him and his life with Marilyn Bantz, of Plainville.
“The reverend does such a beautiful job in blessing all of the animals,” Bantz said, smiling.
Hofmeister also led church members in a blessing for all animals on the planet, even those that aren’t pets.
“Lord we thank you for horses and oxen who work on the farms,” she said, the congregation responding with, “We thank you, God, for the gift of animals.”
Service animals and therapy pets were also acknowledged in gratitude, along with insects that pollinate the land.
“People in the church community really appreciate having their pets recognized,” Office Manager Kristine Lewko said. “Especially older people, who might not have children or other people around, their pets are very much a part of their family.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.