SOMERVILLE, NJ - Rev. Ron Pollock presided at the 20th annual Blessing of the Animals at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, Oct. 7,with several dozen dogs, cats and their owners receiving a special blessing at the 3 p.m. service.

The blessing of the animals is an annual Episcopal tradition in honor of St. Francis Day, which recognizes the importance of pets and animals in people’s lives, according to Father Ron.

"The animals of God's creation inhabit the skies, the earth, and the seas. They share in the fortunes of human existence and have a part in human life," the pastor said. "God, who confers gifts on all living things, has often used the service of animals or made them reminders of the gifts of salvation. Anima;s were saved from the flood and afterwards made a part of the covenant with Noah.

Sign Up for E-News

"We are deeply grateful, O God, for all the pleasure and joy these animals, these pets, have brought not only to the children here, but also to the adults," he continued.

"By your word, Almighty God, all things were made holy. We pray that you will pour down your blessings on these animals and pets. Grant that all those present who give thanks to you and who take good care of these animals may receive, through your almighly power, health of body ad protection of soul.

"We pray that you will keep these pets and animals safe from all harm and take of them in your divine providence."

The pets, their owners and families were invited to a reception in the church hall at the conclusion of the service.