Wrapped in prayer

MELROSE — Struggling over snow and ice, a group of women from St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish — most of them retirees — lugged their sewing machines into the parish hall every Wednesday during the month of January.

Their mission: to make quilts for the elderly parishioners who are homebound and in nursing homes.

“These women have been unbelievable,” commented Mary Ellen Dee, the parish nurse. “They have shown up — rain or shine, snow or ice — carrying their sewing machines in order to make [the quilts]. I am amazed by their dedication.”

“All in all, we made 106 colorful, 45-square inch quilts,” said Lucy Ward, an 82-year-old woman who helped craft the colorful quilts. Each quilt had a note attached that tells the recipient “they are being thought of and prayed for by the parishioners of St. Mary’s.”

“And before the winter’s over, we want to get all of them out to the people they are for,” she added.

The idea for making the quilts came from a new parishioner who had recently relocated from the South. She commented to Dee that her former parish had a similar tradition and suggested that St. Mary begin making quilts as well.

Dee then took the idea to a twice-weekly exercise class she leads in St. Mary’s. The class members were receptive to the idea and offered to donate their time and talents. Once the quilts began to be fashioned, several parishioners offered donations of materials and money in order to keep the project going.

Every Wednesday, roughly 18 women would remain behind after class to work on the quilts. They divided themselves into several groups — some would pin, some iron, others cut and still others would sew, said Ward.

“This was definitely a cooperative venture,” noted Ward, stressing that each person brought their own particular talents to the effort.

On Jan. 18, Father John Ronaghan, pastor of St. Mary Parish, held a ceremony to bless the newly sewn quilts before distributing them to the homebound parishioners.

The 45-square inch colorful quilts will be distributed within the next few weeks. In addition, Dee stated that the quilting group plans to continue meeting once a month “in order to keep up with the demand” so they can keep on providing quilts for the elderly in their parish.