Pets blessed at Secaucus church Four-legged friends attend service with 'Animal Planet' monk
by Tricia Tirella Reporter Correspondent
Oct 28, 2007 | 1357 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dogs, cats, and even a hermit crab packed the Episcopalian Church of Our Savior in Secaucus two Sundays ago for the feast of Saint Francis, who was know for his love of small creatures. Brother Christopher, a monk who has received acclaim for his starring role in Animal Planet's television show "Divine Canine," was present to help the vicar of Our Savior, Marc Lewis, bless their many furry brethren.

"We're not doing a cute little ceremony to make us feel good," Brother Christopher said. "A true understanding of blessing raises our conciseness and helps us realize we are stewards of creation. In our love for out pets, let us always be aware of that."

The day included a sermon presented my Brother Christopher about how essential animals are to spirituality. Afterward, pets were blessed outside of the church and presented with bandanas, water bowls, and treats from Commerce Bank. Brother Christopher said that caring for our animals was the basis for truly understanding the mystery of creation.

Pets are family

Reggie, a 6-month-old fluffy puppy, was brought by the Delehanty family from Cresskill after a friend from Secaucus informed them about the blessing.

"It was a family outing," Richard Delehanty said last weekend as Reggie sat by his side on the pew. "He should be blessed. He's a critical member of our family."

While Reggie sat quietly listening to the service, Snowball, who was a part of the Kimelman family, barked throughout the hymns of the service, which incited laughter throughout the church.

Summer and Savannah brought their dog, Sable, as well as Lucy the hermit crab. Savannah's mom explained that while the hermit crab's name was Lucy, it changes daily. "I love my dog," Summer said last Sunday, explaining why she brought her furry friend.

Man's best friend

The Secaucus Animal Hospital and Commerce Bank sponsored the event.

Thomas Wall, Secaucus Commerce branch manager, gave Brother Christopher a donation for the dogs Christopher cares for at the New Skete monastery in Cambridge, N.Y.

"Divine Canine" on the Animal Planet documents how Brother Christopher and the other monks provide for their community by training and breeding German Shepherds.

Brother Christopher said that once a bishop had visit the monastery and remarked that while he believed they had a wonderful commune, the dog aspect was unfortunate. The bishop had viewed their work with dogs as "earthly," while Brother Christopher said that working with animals allows a person to become aware of the interconnectivity of spirituality.

"The creeping things of the earth will give you lessons," Brother Christopher said last week.

'A real respect for God's creation'

Lewis said that the pet blessing had been a tradition of the church for a number of years, but that after 9/11, it died out. He said that he was very happy interest in the occasion had returned because it was a great way to get different people mingling and to talk about God in a more "holistic setting."

Donald Roberts, who brought his cat Shadow to get blessed, was very satisfied by the program.

"I think it was just wonderful," Roberts said last weekend. "The whole service was very uplifting."

Outside of the church mobile pet spa, owner Erica Sanfiz greeted pet owners. Dr. John Hatch, a Secaucus Animal Hospital veterinarian, had asked her to stop by. Her business Just 4 Paws, based in Rutherford, serves pet owners in the North New Jersey area when skittish or older pets would rather have a groomer come to them.

Although she only watched the service from the door, she was very impressed.

"I thought it was lovely," Sanfiz said last Sunday. "This is the way religion is supposed to be."

Brother Christopher moved everyone in the church with his sermon on the importance the worth of creation in every living creature.

"The gift has already been given to us in life, even the animals know this," Brother Christopher said. "Pet owners really need to pay attention each day and hear what their pets are telling us."

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