October 28, 2011
"Ministry Spotlight" showcases a program at our parish to share a little more background about it and the volunteers who take part. This week’s entry was written by parishioner Geri Neita.
"... pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful." - James 16
As Catholics, praying for others is a natural expression of the love we have for one another, as well as our hope and faith in God. The Prayer Shawl Ministry manages to convey that love in a unique and tangible way.
| Prayer Shawls in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel
“The mission of this ministry is to use the work of our hands and our prayers to create shawls or blankets that will allow the recipients to literally wrap themselves in our prayers for them,” Maureen Hoyer said.
Hoyer started the Prayer Shawl Ministry at Saint Alphonsus Liguori in the fall of 2007, as a way to spread the incredible feeling of gratitude and faithfulness she felt when a friend presented her with a prayer shawl during a particularly difficult time in her life. Drawing on inspiration from a book entitled Knitting Into the Mystery, she formed a group to provide that same spiritual hug for others.
“Our parish ministry is part of a much larger ministry within the Christian community,” Hoyer said, alluding to the fact that church groups worldwide are producing prayer shawls to help spread the message of God’s mercy, love and compassion.
"It is to those who have the most need of us that we ought to show our love more especially." - Saint Francis de Sales
Each prayer shawl begins with the shawl maker saying prayers for the recipient and the intentions are continued with each stitch until the piece is complete. Then, members of the ministry pray over each finished shawl before it is given away. Shawls may vary in size according to the type of yarn used to make them, however, a 30 x 60-inch creation typically takes about 50 hours to complete - that’s 50 hours of prayer! So when wrapped around a person, the prayer shawl serves as a reminder of the mercy, peace and compassion of God’s loving embrace.
To date, over 150 shawls have been presented to parishioners and other people whom the group felt might benefit from the physical and spiritual warmth of a prayer shawl. During the past year, some members have focused their talents on small, white blankets for newly baptized infants in the parish; they hope to have the blankets blessed by Father O’Keeffe and ready to hand out early next year. “We give shawls for comfort, encouragement and celebration,” said Hoyer. “One of our previous members (she has since moved from the area) made beautiful shawls for her future daughters-in-law as wedding gifts!”
As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta reminds us, "We can do no great things; only small things with great love."
The Prayer Shawl Ministry currently consists of about 14 women who knit or crochet at parishioner Ann Galvin’s home on the first Thursday evening and second Tuesday morning of the month. However, if a person is interested in the ministry but cannot make the meetings, yarn is available to take home and work at one’s own pace. “Our meetings are just an opportunity for us to gather to knit and share our prayers with those of others who have made shawls,” said Hoyer.
When asked if a person needs to have knitting or crocheting skills to join this ministry, Hoyer said, emphatically, “NO! I am happy to teach anyone who is interested in knitting for the ministry.” So even if you have no prior knowledge of knitting, don’t be discouraged - before long, you’ll be casting on stitches and turning out prayer shawls like a pro!