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Staten Island Episcopal parish home to newly consecrated pet cemetery

by Daphne Mack

[ENS] The faithful gathered in song and prayer on Earth Day, April 22, on the grounds of the Church of Saint Andrew http://www.churchofstandrew-si.org/  in Richmondtown, Staten Island to consecrate a special cemetery for pets.

"Pets are an important part of our lives, and this cemetery is one way of honoring what they have meant to us and to our families," said the Rev. Michael Delaney, rector of the Church of Saint Andrew.

Throughout its almost three hundred year history, the Church of Saint Andrew has remained a strong and active faith community dedicated to prayer, fellowship and community outreach.

"The Cemetery for All God's Creatures" is open to all faiths, said Delaney. It serves as a reminder that we are "stewards of all God's creation."

Area politicians, veterinarians and parishioners were present as Bishop Vicar E. Don Taylor of the Diocese of New York opened the gate of the 850-plot cemetery.

"Let it be said that on this day, April 22, 2005 in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ, that the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of New York through the mission and ministry of the Church of Saint Andrew in Richmondtown, Staten Island, is a church where all of God's creatures are welcomed and celebrated," said Taylor.

During the service the following pets were interred:

*Gizmo, one of St. Andrew's own church "mouser” cats.

*Merlin, Gizmo's litter mate.

*Fluffy and Rusty, dogs owned by a parishioner.

*Truth, the dog owned by the late Bishop Walter Dennis of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

Lynn and John Fodor, who were married at the Church and had their cats Tai and Simon interred, said, "It's a beautiful resting place for the animals where it's safe and very comforting."

Karen Kelly, administrative assistant at the Church said, "Each plot cost $500 which includes the headstone and can hold the cremains of four pets."

She said there is also an additional $225 fee and that "so far about 40 plots have been purchased."

Prayers and liturgy for the service were adapted from We Thank You, God for These: Blessings and Prayers for Family Pets http://www.paulistpress.com/4125-6.html  by Anthony F. Chiffolo and the Rev. Rayner W. Hesse, Jr., rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in New Rochelle. Hesse said, "This is a very important ministry."

---Daphne Mack is staff writer for Episcopal News Service.

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God's Creatures Ministry is committed to spreading God's compassion to all He has made based on The Scriptures. Although we are a Christian Ministry, we encourage all to have their own animal welfare committee in their community. We extend our resources to those who would like to learn more or begin their own God's Creatures Ministry as an extension of us. God created us to have a vegetarian diet and commissioned us to protect His animals. Instead, we have exploited them for our entertainment, fashion, appetite and useless, torturous research. These creatures have the right to live as they were created to live. Because we live IN this world, but are not OF this world, we strive to bring God's mercy and justice to all. We live in God's Kingdom now where Jesus, The Sacrificial Lamb, The Prince of Peace, The Lion of Judah reigns. We look forward to that day when all of creation will be 'set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God' (Romans 8:21) where a little child will lead and guide God's creatures (see Isaiah 11:5-9).

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