By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
As a group of women sat sewing prayer blankets in St. Francis Xavier Church in Mt. Washington, Ky., early last month, a parishioner stopped by to thank them.
The ladies had made a blanket for his friend suffering from cancer and the family was very moved by the gift.
The prayer blanket ministry is one of more than 50 ministries offered by St. Francis Xavier.
The blankets are made to be given to anyone in need of prayers, those who are ill, individuals dealing with the loss of a family member and just anyone who needs comfort, said Diana McVady, a parishioner involved with the group.
The blankets are colorful and made to fit across the lap, so they are not too long in case the recipient is wheelchair-bound, said Karen Pataluna, one of the blanket makers.
The women pray as they sew the blankets which are later blessed by Father Dale Cieslik, pastor of the parish. The individuals who receive the blankets are also remembered in the Prayer of the Faithful during Mass, the women said.
The blanket makers said they love to sew and knit. The ministry helps them do “something prayerful to reach out to the parish and community and comfort them,” McVady said.
The ministry was started years ago, but faded away, noted Karen Pataluna, one of the members. It re-emerged a year ago and has about 25 members. More than 200 blankets have been made and sent out into the parish and wider community since then, said Pataluna.
Upon completion, each blanket is placed in a bag along with a prayer book and a rosary made by the parish’s rosary maker ministry.
The women sewed 21 blankets for the Mt. Washington Police Department to show they were grateful for the officers’ service, they said. On the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the officers visited the parish and the blankets, on which their names were stitched, were presented to them.
Members of the group also recently worked with “Teens Gathered in Faith,” the parish’s youth group to make fleece blankets for children served by Sunrise Children’s Services, a residential facility for abused and neglected kids, said the women.
They are now sewing blankets for the Mt. Washington Fire Department.
The women said the ministry enriches their lives, too. Sharon Mann said it’s a privilege to be a part of the group.
“It’s part of my ministry of giving back. It’s like therapy. It enriches me and fills me with the Spirit so I can give,” said Mann. “It’s a nice visual to have something to hold on to — to remind you that you’re loved and being prayed for.”
Pat Leppert, another of the blanket makers, said the ministry comforts her.
“I’m comforted when I comfort other people,” said Leppert. One of the blankets she made went to a friend suffering from cancer.
“I felt the comfort and peace (her friend felt). Words cannot explain,” said Leppert.
Edna Simms, another member of the group, added with a laugh, “We’re each others’ psychiatrist.”
To learn more about the ministry or to donate materials for blankets, contact the parish office at email@example.com or by calling 502-538-4933 or 502-955-5366.