Beloved pets from all across the borough gathered outside the historic New Utrecht Reformed Church on Saturday, Sept. 22. They came to the sacred site at 8301-8323 18th Ave. to receive a blessing from Pastor E.J. Emerson.
Dressed in a corded brown robe, Emerson greeted each animal with a special prayer and anointed them with holy water. And through the ceremony, fluffy white Princess was on her best behavior as her owner Colleen Patti brought her up for her blessing. Phyllis Capuano said that she brought her best friend Peanut every year for Emerson to bless.
The “Blessing of the Animals” is an annual event inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, a Catholic saint who was born in the 12th Century, and known for his love of animals.
The New Utrecht Reformed Church is one of the oldest churches in Brooklyn. Established in 1677, the church building was originally located on what is now 16th Avenue and 84th Street. In 1828, a new church was constructed at the present site; 18th Avenue and 84th Street. The foundation of the “new” building contains stones from the original church.
The church was declared a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1966 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Emerson referred to a pet’s love as unconditional. “Our pets love us unconditionally,” Emerson said. “They love us the same way that God loves us.”