Newburgh – On Sunday, October 3, Father Bill Damroth, Pastor of St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Newburgh, was at St. Francis of Assisi Church. He repeated what the patron Saint of the Church did during his lifetime – Bless all of God’s creatures, especially the animals. Since Monday, October 4 is the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, the traditional blessing of animals was held on the weekend.
Fr. Damroth, an animal lover himself, has 4 dogs, several cats and birds of his own, mostly obtained through the animal shelter, and was thrilled to see the large variety and number of dogs brought for the blessing. He has several bird feeders throughout the property. There was one small kitten among the brood. One couple stated their dog was stressed and couldn’t attend the event, so they stood in proxy for her.
There were no problems with the various breeds of dogs although they barked aloud to let each other know they were there. Unfortunately, the extremely loud music emanating from the Armory drowned out the ceremony somewhat; however, Fr. Bill said the appropriate prayers and blessings overplayed the unnecessary noise.
The owners brought their beloved animals from various locations. The farthest point traveled was by a family, from Pennsylvania. When questioned as to why they came so far, the matriarch of the family said initially this was her Church and she was married here but then moved to Pennsylvania. Their two sons said they wanted their puppy, Blaze, to get his first blessing here.
Her sister, who lives in the Newburgh area, came with their puppy, Jett. Both Jett and Blaze are new additions to their families so both were brought in for their first blessings. Jett’s owner said today’s event was bittersweet since they used to bring their first dog, Malachai, every year to be blessed until he passed away.
Fr. Bill commented how the numbers have been increasing every year and that he is very happy to see how much compassion exists for animals. St. Francis of Assisi must be jubilant in knowing his love for God’s creatures is still thriving among the difficulties in today’s world.
Article & Photographs by James R Formato