Standing on Sunday below the flock of green monk parakeets that have made the roughly 60-foot pine tree overlooking the Blessed Sacrament Church rectory their home, about two-dozen Valley Streamers gathered — with their pets in tow — happily chatting with neighbors over the loud, staccato chirping of the colorful birds.
Many discussed each other’s accompanying pet dogs, cats and birds, while others, seemingly reacting to the constant, shrill din emanating from overhead, spoke of the urban legend of how the non-native green parrots came to live on Long Island — a broken shipping container at John F. Kennedy Airport a number of years back, bound for a pet shop.
The scene was appropriate for the occasion, where the pets were being blessed with holy water in honor of the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, which every year falls on Oct. 4.
Francis, the Rev. Peter Dugandzic said, was known to live in the wilderness, and the blessing ceremony as part of the feast celebrating the saint’s life, became a tradition.
“I get such a joy out of getting to see the people with their pets,” he said, noting that this was his 10th year holding the pet-blessing ceremony at the church. Dugandzic said that normally, he is only able see his parishioners in the church setting, but when accompanied by their animals, he has noticed their personality change.
“They’re so different when they’re around their pets,” he said. “It’s like they’re with their children.”