A reminder of care: Prayer Shawl Ministry creates gifts

November 2013 Posted in Arts, Culture & History
Sister Dorothy Jean and Barbara Beyer examine a shawl.

Sister Dorothy Jean and Barbara Beyer examine a shawl.

By Don Murtha

At a long table in the parish office at Saint Mary’s Church in Mount  Angel, several women sit knitting or crocheting under the guidance of Sister Dorothy Jean Beyer. The women are members of the Prayer Shawl Ministry. They knit and crochet shawls to give to the sick; those who have lost a loved one or to mark a joyful experience: a birth, a wedding, a graduation, an anniversary…. the possibilities are endless.

Click-clack, knit one, purl two; the sound of the needles makes a soft music throughout the room as the women create their personal gifts to someone known or unknown. The shawls are stacked on the table waiting for a blessing before being given to their new owners.

“These women are so generous about giving their time for the benefit of others, some they know and some they don’t,” Beyer said. “The knitting or crocheting benefits each women by giving to others with a soothing action that calms through the motion of their hands.”

Beyer said each woman offers a prayer to the one who will receive her shawl. Since starting in February, the group has produced more than 190 shawls.

St. Mary’s Prayer Shawl Ministry

Women who can knit or crochet are welcome
to join the ministry and for those whose
skills are rusty or who have no experience
there are teachers available.

The group meets the third Tuesday of
the month at 3:30 pm in the parish
office at Saint Mary’s Church.

For information, contact
Sister Dorothy Jean Beyer at
503-845-2296 or 503-991-9299.
Her email is stmary.careministry@gmail.com.

A tall, slender woman, Beyer is a kind, thoughtful, generous person. She has been a member of her Benedictine Order for more than 50 years. The Mount Angel group was started when Beyer first heard about the program from a priest in New  Hampshire. She approached Father Phillip Waibel, OSB about introducing the ministry to Saint Mary’s and he endorsed it.

“From there it was like the crumbs dropped by Hansel and Gretel,” Beyer said. “There was already a Prayer Shawl Ministry at Saint Edward’s Church in Keizer and they helped us get started.”

Beyer said the Prayer Shawl Ministry in Mount Angel is not  limited to one denomination or one social organization.

“There are prayer shawl groups through the United States and in many other countries,” she said. “They meet in hospitals, hospices, schools or whereever a groups can gather.”

Prayer shawls are rooted with Jewish men who wore the prayer shawls as a covenant with God. Prayer shawls have been made by women throughout the world in many cultures and religions.

“If someone wants a shawl or someone knows someone who could use a shawl, we will provide one,” Beyer said. “We see the shawls as a gift of free love as God’s love is freely given.”“We welcome anyone who would like to join us and for those who don’t knit or crochet we have teachers. I will also teach,” Beyer said, adding every shawl has a story.

“The prayer shawls provide a tangible remembrance for those who receive them that others are thinking of them when they are sick or isolated and alone,” Beyer said.

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