Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

animals-forstory_3983George Zhin of Torrington holds Lili, a 1-year-old dachshund. See photo gallery by Jack Sheedy here.

TORRINGTON – There was no big baboon by the light of the moon, but there were dogs of all sizes and breeds, cats, hamsters, rabbits, at least one fish, a gecko and two Nigerian dwarf goats. More than 200 humans also showed up at a "Spirit of Saint Francis Festival" Oct. 2 on the grounds of St. Francis of Assisi Church.

"Animals remind us of two things," said Father Christopher Tiano, Pastor of the Torrington Cluster of Roman Catholic Parishes, as he prepared to bless the animals. "One, they love us no matter what. Number two, they remind us that we have a responsibility to them." He said our relationships with our pets is like God’s relationship with us.

"If we’re capable of loving our pets, imagine how much more God is capable of loving us," he said.

The blessing occurred near a bronze statue of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, just two days before his Oct. 4 feast day. Because the 13th-century monk also had a concern for nature, the environment, world peace and social justice, many of the 20 vendors, speakers and exhibitors focused on those topics. They included the local homeless shelter Torrington FISH; Friendly Hands Food Bank; the Institute for International Sports, which promotes peace through sports; a green energy booth; and several animal-related exhibits.

Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist Angela Marie Castellani and Regina Cochran, of Meriden, were on hand to answer questions about vocations.

Eric Heslin, of the Newington headquarters of the Connecticut Humane Society, arrived with the Adopt-a-Pet Bus filled with animals. He said, "We take the bus out to different events we’re invited to, to [offer for adoption] all pets off the bus and to talk about all the wonderful things that we do and the programs that we have."

Samantha Foster, a student at Wamogo Regional High School in Litchfield, came with her mother, Kathy Foster, and two Nigerian dwarf goats. "They are fully grown," she said. "Isabella is about three or four, and Snowy is about a year. Isabella is [Snowy’s] mom."

Donna Puzacke, volunteer chairperson, said the event had been in the planning stages since June. The all-day festival included food and refreshments, kids’ activities, a pet parade, times for prayer and reflection, dinner, rosary recitation and a raffle drawing, she said.

Father Carlos Andres Echavarria Ocampo, parochial vicar, led people in a prayer for world peace. Father Tiano conducted a tour of the interior of the church and its stained glass windows. He said the festival was the first of what he hopes will be a yearly event.