St. Albert the Great Catholic Church here in North Royalton gave a special blessing to dogs, cats and other animals on Sunday, October 1, the celebration of Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
Francis, who lived from 1181 to 1226 is known as the patron saint of the environment and animals because he loved all creatures.
Since many of us consider our pets as an important part of our family, a blessing for the health and well being of our four-footed friends only seems natural.
Father Edward Estok, the pastor of St. Albert, has conducted the pet blessing for the last nine years. “We believe that God loves people and animals. Many of us consider animals as an essential part of the family.” Father Estok said while most of the animals blessed on October 1, were dogs and cats, over the years he has blessed many lizards, reptiles and even snakes.
While many families stood outside the St. Albert Parish Life Center with their pets to receive the blessing, there was also a “drive-thru” aspect to the blessing, where pet owners and animals remained in their vehicles.
“Many owners and pets find it hard to get out of their cars to receive a blessing. We don’t want to leave them out,” said Father Estok.
Donna and Jim Jacko of North Royalton brought their rescue dog Molly to be blessed. “Molly was in a bad situation when we adopted her in Florida. This is the third year that Molly has been blessed and I think it’s working. She is so mild-mannered now and is active,” said Donna.
Bill and Jane Thrasher of North Royalton had their leashed cat, Riley, at the Pet Blessing. Jane said, “We love Riley so much. He literally is part of the family. He is a rescue cat and we feel that Riley is in a better place.”
Danielle Kucharski brought her 10-year-old rescue dog to be blessed. “He needs the blessing every year,” said Danielle. Her dog was seated in what could be described as a baby stroller because of leg issues. “I can’t imagine life without him.”
The Pet Blessing is not limited to parishoners of St. Albert or North Royalton residents. Drew Truax made the trek from Ohio City to have his 3-year old border collie blessed. “Father Dominic (Gideon) told us about the pet blessing, so we came out.”
I asked St. Albert Music Director John Webb if he ever played before so many animals. He laughed and said, “I’m glad to participate in ways God blesses animals and keeps them healthy.”
All particiants received a St. Francis medal, participated in song and Scripture readings. The four-footed friends, who were blessed, received special “animal” treats courtesy of the North Royalton Animal Hospital.

Contributing Writer