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Home : Community : Customer Gallery : Prayer Shawl Ministry at St. Andrew the Apostle Church

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Prayer Shawl Ministry at St. Andrew the Apostle Church
Created By: Julienne Ricchiazzi

The Prayer Shawl Ministry at St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Kenmore, New York began in the fall of 2004. We first heard of prayer shawls from friends in other churches. They shared some ideas with us on how to get started. We began with a small group of ten beginner and experienced knitters. Since then we have grown to include over twenty-five enthusiastic members. We have distributed more than four hundred prayer shawls, lap robes and blankets.

Many of us come together every Thursday evening. Prayer is an important part of our meetings. Our Opening Prayers help us to focus on our purpose, which is to bring comfort to those in need. Midway through the evening we place our hands on the completed shawls and pray that God will shower His blessings on them and on all those who will receive them, as well as those who have already received shawls. (Later the shawls are blessed by our parish priest.) Our Closing prayers express gratitude to God for bringing us together. We ask God to bless us and grant us a save trip home.

Early in our ministry we presented a prayer blanket to a woman who was experiencing a high risk pregnancy. She told us that she covered herself and her unborn child with the blanket and would feel warmth and comfort. Despite many trips to the hospital and months of bed rest, she delivered a healthy baby girl. Both mom and baby are doing well.

One outstanding miracle of the prayer shawls for a member of our group was “when my nephew had open heart surgery. Sammy is only six years old. He was allowed only two things he could take to the hospital with him and he choose the prayer shawl as one. He went through the operation with flying colors, even the doctor couldn’t believe how fast he recovered.”

We presented a bright orange prayer blanket to a three-year-old boy who had just been diagnosed with autism. His parents were grateful for the blanket and our prayers. They sent us a picture of their son lying on the floor with a big smile on his face. He was covered from head to toe with his orange prayer blanket. He takes it wherever he goes. We’re so pleased to hear that he is doing very well.

The prayer shawl ministry reaches beyond faith denominations and cultures. It is a blessing and a calling. Our group varies in age and also in the level of their knitting and crocheting skills. We are bound together like our many stands of yarn with prayer, teaching, laughter and a few tears. The ministry of prayer shawls starts with the parish but then extends into the community and far beyond like ripples making larger circles in a pond. Members of our group have mailed shawls to other states where a relative is fighting cancer. We have taken them to work to minister to colleagues who have been ill or are mourning the loss of a loved one. The actual delivering of these mantles of prayer is such a powerful moment for both the person receiving it and the one who represents the parish in giving it. This is a holy exchange where God is present. The next wonderful part is the chance for other to give back to the parish by getting involved in the ministry themselves whether by knitting, crocheting or providing yarn for more shawls. They can pass the blessing forward to someone else. One member shared that a cancer patient commented that when she was wrapped in her shawl that she immediately felt surrounded by warmth and peace.

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