When “Mary” was diagnosed with breast cancer a little over a year ago, she received a knitted shawl created by the women in the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown’s Prayer Shawl Ministry. The shawl has brought “Mary” so much comfort that she carries it still, likening herself to Linus in the Peanut cartoons.
“I am doing splendiferously,” she wrote them recently, “and thank God that I am renewed.”
In fact, “Mary” wanted to share the comfort and love the shawls bring with two friends battling cancer out west, so she recently shipped them prayer shawls made at the Ursuline Center.
“We often get calls from people asking for a shawl to give a friend or loved one who is suffering mentally, physically or spiritually,” says Eileen W. Novotny, Ursuline Associate and founder of the ministry at the Ursuline Center. “We had one shawl go to Australia!”
Eileen began the prayer shawl ministry in January 2008 after hearing about similar ministries in other parts of the country. Since then, more than 600 shawls have been knitted or crocheted by ministry volunteers to bring the comfort of God’s love to anyone in need of healing. They are most often distributed to the Ursuline Sisters AIDS/HIV ministry, the Hope Cancer Center in Poland, and St. Elizabeth Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (baby shawls and preemie hats) in Youngstown.
“The Ursuline Sisters also distribute them to people they know are in need of prayers and comfort. We do not ever sell the shawls. If someone offers a donation toward the ministry or a donation of yarn, we are happy to receive it,” Eileen adds.
It takes several skeins and between 30-70 hours to create each shawl. The shawl maker begins with prayers and blessings for the recipient and the group offers a final blessing before the shawl is sent on its way.
Click here for more information on The Ursuline Center’s Prayer Shawl Ministry.