During the Blessing of the Animals 2023 event, Bronx pet owners came together to pray for their furry friends in Wayne Cortlandt Park. “The idea today is to bless the animals and bring the community together,” said minister Danny Rockett. “It’s always a baptism or a blessing for families, marriages and things like that, but we forget so much about our beloved critters.”
Photo Pamela Rozon
The Yonkers Museum of Art, UMA, held a Blessing of the Animals event at Van Cortlandt Park in Riverdale earlier this month. There, members of the community gathered to receive the blessing of ordained Pastor Danny Rockett to their beloved furry friends.
The Blessing Of The Animals provided food, music, pet toys, and prayers for the community and their pets. it is Traditionally known as a Catholic event, it was created as a tribute to St. Francis – who had a special connection with animals. However, organizer Buddy UMA says people of all faiths are welcome to join.
“It’s just a blessing,” he said. “I don’t think he has any religion and I think anyone, if his intentions are sincere, can bless someone else.”
UMA said they were inspired by St. John the Divine Cathedral’s animal blessing ceremony. Upon attending, he was in awe of the community the event brought and hoped to do the same for his neighborhood.
“It was just very communal, peaceful, accessible, because there was no cost to the ceremony,” he said. “And so immediately I thought I’d like to do something similar.”
Among the many animals attending YoMA’s first Blessing Of The Animals event were Matthew Pinero and Grace Espin with their three dogs, two of them in dog strollers. The partners felt that they wanted their pets to be blessed to ensure their happiness for the coming year.
“I feel like events like this definitely bring people together and it creates camaraderie,” Pinero said.
The first-time event was deemed a success by the organizers, who hope to hold a similar event next year.
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