By Laurie Gordon
If you walk down the little hill and across the wooden bridge behind Father John's Animal House then take a right, along the green fence, you'll happen upon an enchanted sanctuary where butterflies dance in the gentle breeze, birds circle about and the soft tinkling of chimes fills the air. Liberato's Memorial Garden opened in June and is a place where all are welcome to go to reflect and remember the life of a pet or human.
For 20 years, Father John's Animal House has been taking in, caring for, and re-homing homeless pets. Many people and pets have left a legacy through their work and companionship, so when a supporter of Father John's asked that someone who meant a lot to them be remembered by having their name memorialized at the shelter, it prompted Father John's to create this opportunity for all animal lovers and their beloved pets alike.
The garden was built in memory of the late Liberato "Chris" Schinaia, a Franklin resident and animal welfare advocate who passed away in January 2018 at the age of 97. The entrance bears his name. Construction of the garden was made possible by a bequest left to the shelter at the time of Schinaia's death and by an additional grant from The Home Depot Foundation.
“Mr. Schinaia had no family and loved animals.” said Garret Barcheski, Father's John's Shelter Director. “We had talked about doing something like this for a while, and this was our opportunity.”
In the future, raised garden beds will be added to the sanctuary.
“We are fortunate to have a really healthy eco system here, so the birds and butterflies add something special to the garden,” Barcheski said.
The project was made possible by volunteers from Selective Insurance and Home Depot who rolled up their sleeves to help construct the garden.
Supporters of this mission have the opportunity to donate and have a personalized wind chime or granite stone placed in this peaceful, beautiful area.
Father John's Animal House got its start in the 1940s when Father John worked with agriculture on the property and had a strong love for animals. Father John's Animal House was officially founded in 1999. Its mission is to provide veterinary care, necessary medication, housing, love, food, companionship and time for their rehabilitation process.
“This gives our animals the best chance at being able to find a forever adoptive home,” Barcheski said.”
Father John's intake animals, including some of which are homeless, feral, handicapped, elderly, abandoned and abused, often come from local municipal shelters or are owner surrenders. This can be a time consuming and costly process. Father John's Animal House also prides itself on being a resource of information and service for the community to encourage responsible and committed pet ownership.
Father John’s is a limited admission shelter. This means that no adoptable animal is ever euthanized because of breed, age, space requirements, or a treatable condition. They will also take adopted animals back if, for any reason, the adopter can no longer care for their pet.
“We welcome any questions about Father John's, pet adoption and the garden and and hope to see this garden grow and evolve over time into a really special place.” Barcheski said. “Animals have been here since the 1940s, so truly it's hallowed ground.“