Churches bless animals in Erie area

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Oct 7, 2013 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

Yips and woofs sounded Sunday through the open doors of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Millcreek Township.

Pets joined people in the pews for a morning service that included a Blessing of the Animals. Those that turned out included dogs, cats, rats and even a bird, a guinea pig and a turtle. The event honored St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment, whose feast day was Friday.

“We want to honor all of God’s creation,” the Rev. Melissa Adzima said. “We are blessed with the gift of pets and animals in our lives.”

Adzima and the Rev. Don Baxter said the congregation at St. Mark’s, 4701 Old French Road, also wanted to honor families, regardless of whether their members have two or four legs.

“Pets are part of the family,” Baxter said.

Chris Hopper and his wife, Jodi, think of Roxy, their dachshund mix, as a daughter, he said. The Erie couple, who are St. Mark’s members, wanted the dog to be blessed, he said.

“All of God’s creatures deserve his love and blessing,” Chris Hopper said.

Debbie Kightlinger, of Erie, said she feels the same about pets and people. She took her cat Thea to the service.

“We can all stand to have a blessing, even the animals,” Kightlinger said.

Jodi Vargo, of Wesleyville, said the event was a nice way to bring the church community together. She carried an albino rat named Pickles up to the altar area for Adzima to bless.

As dozens of other animals and owners lined up before Adzima and Baxter, Vargo showed Pickles to other members, letting them pet the rat as she answered questions about it.

At least one other Erie County church also invited people to take in their pets for a special blessing and a Catholic school held a similar event.

The Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul held a Blessing of the Animals on Sunday as part of a Harvest Festival in Erie. Our Lady of Peace School in Millcreek held its Blessing of the Animals on Friday.

DANA MASSING can be reached at 870-1729 or by e-mail. Follow her on Twitter at

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