Article from Sun Sentinel

Friars bless furry four-legged pets

1Melissa Marmolejos, from Pembroke Pines, holds her Shih Tzu, Ava, up for a blessing from Brother John of the Parish of Saints Francis and Clare at the Blessing of the Animals event on Sunday, Oct,4 at Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale. Maria Lorenzino/Sun Sentinel (Maria Lorenzino / Sun Sentinel)
Brian Ballou Brian BallouContact Reporter
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
At least 125 pets, mostly dogs, receive blessings from Friars

Father Joe Spina has been blessing animals for decades in recognition of the Feast of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, and he has never been bitten.

On Sunday afternoon, he was at the Humane Society of Broward County, helping to bless a tail-wagging crowd of 125, the largest in the event’s 15 year history at the shelter.

“Everyone’s welcome, we turn no one away,” said Spina, a Franciscan friar who is based at The Parish of Saints Francis and Clare in Fort Lauderdale. “Our part of the ministry we have is to walk in those footsteps, not just to minister to the ones in the hospital or in our parish, but any part of God’s creation,”

He added, “I’ve never been bitten, but a few dogs have peed on me.”.

One by one the animals, mostly dogs, came and Father Joe hovered a steady hand over their heads or bodies and said a brief prayer, inside the shaded and fenced eastern lot on Griffin Road near Interstate 95.