Visitors to the Pope Chapel on Oct. 4 were greeted by dogs, cats, a horse and a cacophony of dog noises — panting, yippee short barks, loud deep barks, whining and the sounds of tongues lapping water.
Each year in celebration of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Fort Bragg’s Saint Michael of the Archangel Catholic Community hosts a pet blessing. “Feathers and fins, furry or stuffed,” the group welcomes all pets.
The catholic community at Fort Bragg has hosted the pet blessing for more than 18 years, according to Sasan Kroll, Catholic community coordinator.
“It’s the St. Francis of Assisi Feast Day and he’s the animal lover. It reminds us that they (animals) make our life better here. The animals are a gift …,” said Kroll.
Some furry friends and their humans were new to the event, and some have been attending for years.
First-timers Riela Banez-Ly and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Richard Ly made the decision to attend with their dog Trigger because they attend church regularly and wanted Trigger, their canine son, to be blessed.
“I like it. It was good; it was fun,” said Banez-Ly. “We have been here for a while, so I wish I had known about it earlier.”
The Yarnall Family has attended every year since their arrival at Fort Bragg. This was their sixth pet blessing. The Yarnalls brought their dogs Sara and Vixen to be blessed, and three-year-old Jude Yarnallasked to have his bear “Jude Bear” blessed as well.
“May almighty God bless to the intercession of St. Francis in the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit. Amen,” Father Michael Travaglioni said, over each pet furry and stuffed brought before him.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Ron Czarnecki arrived at the installation in 1963 and retired from Fort Bragg in 1989. He has been a regular with his horses at the pet blessing for many years. This year he brought his horse Angel to be blessed by Travaglioni.
“I’ve been doing it since I’ve had horses. She (Angel) is the last one of my herd, they have all passed away,” Czarnecki explained.
Czarnecki said he prefers to worship in the company of Soldiers.
“I don’t get along with civilians very well … I’d rather be around Soldiers. I love Soldiers,” he said.
Humans and pets alike were invited to partake of the treats on offer. At the completion of the blessing, Travaglioni and Kroll handed out toys, a certificate and a St. Francis medal that could be worn on the collars of those that were blessed.