Father Sal Riccio blesses the animals at St. James Church in Ventnor, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.


VENTNOR – The venerated St. Francis of Assisi left this earthly planet on Oct. 3, 1226 but his love for the animals endures as churches around the world continue to bless the animals on his feast day.

On Saturday, Oct. 9, St. James Church of Holy Trinity Parish held a brief service in the parking lot to bless the animals of the community.

More than a dozen families brought their well-behaved canine friends to receive the blessing administered by Father Sal Riccio, who before his retirement, presided over the annual ritual at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Pennsylvania, he said.

“There may have been some yapping, but I never had a dog get out of hand,” he said. “They were always so well behaved.”

The dogs came in all shapes and sizes, and most were mixed breeds given a loving homes after living in a shelter for a time.

Milo and his mom, MIchele Cepparulo of Ventnor.

Milo, a Chihuahua mix is getting up in age, as evidenced by his grey coat that his owner said was once solid black.

“I brought him for a blessing because he has anxieties and always wants to be with me,” Michele Cepparulo said. “He gets very nervous if I leave him.”

His girlfriend Penny Layne wore her finest pink dress with roses for the occasion. The Yorkie-Silver Poodle mix has “the best wardrobe in the Downbeach area,” Cepparulo said.

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Categories: Downbeach

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.