A Prayer in Every Stitch


The Saint Irenaeus Shawl Ministry has been an important part of the parish community since 2004, thanks to the vision of longtime parishioner Donna. She grew up knitting, which came in handy during the many cold New England months! Hats, scarves, and sweaters are just some of her early creations.

Years later while now living in sunny California, she heard a woman on the radio describe creating shawls for those in need as a form of prayer. Donna was moved and inspired by this description. She brought the concept of a Shawl Ministry to Sr. Rita, a Presentation Sister, at that time head of Saint Irenaeus’ Health Ministry. She loved the idea! At the next Health Ministry Fair, Donna sat knitting and answered questions. Several ladies signed up that day!

Shawl Ministry members can spend anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks making both simple and intricately designed shawls. However, all crafters pray and meditate while creating these homemade items. The group’s motto? A prayer is said with every stitch - a gift of love in every shawl.

Shawls are given to individuals who are experiencing loss, illness, loneliness, or are simply yearning for a spiritual hug that these handcrafted gifts provide. Currently, the Saint Irenaeus Shawl Ministry distributes about 10 shawls a month, but the need is greater. The parish’s Funeral Ministry, Cancer Support, and GriefShare are just a few of the groups that receive shawls to be distributed to individuals in need. Occasionally, Donna personally delivers a shawl. She will spend a little time with the person, say a prayer, and give a hug. Sometimes, there are tears.

She loves knitting, but it is helping others that makes her the happiest. Says Donna, “One woman told me that after receiving a shawl, she now is able to sleep better.”