Blessing of the Animals at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Jamaica Plain

JAMAICA PLAIN -- Parishioners, pets and pizza were all part of the Blessing of the Animals celebration on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Oct. 4, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish center in Jamaica Plain.

Father Brendan P. Buckley, OFM Cap., the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, conducted the noon ceremony from the steps outside the parish hall as pet owners and animal lovers looked on and prayed. Individual blessings and photo opportunities were also available following the service, and certificates commemorating the blessing were distributed to pet owners.

More than 70 people and 35 pets from the surrounding community were on-hand for the ceremony, which was followed by pizza and soft drinks in the parish hall, sponsored by the local Knights of Columbus council. This was the first Blessing of the Animals at the parish and Father Buckley said that it will become an annual tradition. Father Buckley took over the parish in August.

Our Lady of Lourdes parish, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, is the first parish in the Archdiocese of Boston to be placed under the supervision of the Capuchins, who have worked with the poor and homeless throughout the archdiocese for a number of years.

This feast day blessing was an opportunity for the Our Lady of Lourdes community to gather in a fun-filled, festive outpouring of faith, according to Father Buckley. It was also a unique opportunity to introduce the Capuchins to parishioners; approximately 15 Capuchin friars were at the event.

The Capuchins were founded by St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his great love of animals. Blessing pets and animals on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi is a warm yet novel way of capturing the essence of the Capuchin Franciscan religious order, according to Father Buckley.

In addition to a school, the parish complex is also home to two Capuchin friaries, San Lorenzo Friary, housed in the former convent, and St. Francis of Assisi Friary, in the former rectory. Approximately 20 Capuchin friars and students live in these two friaries. Three friars are assigned to the parish, and the others continue to work with the poor and needy in ministries throughout the archdiocese. The students are completing their training for ordination to the priesthood.