“Shawls …made for centuries universal and embracing, symbolic of an inclusive, unconditionally loving God. They wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace, mother, hug, shelter and beautify. Those who have received these shawls have been uplifted and affirmed, as if given wings to fly above their troubles…”
Jane Severi Bristow
Janet Severi Bristow and Victoria Galo, graduates of the 1997 Women’s Leadership Institute at the Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut, began the Prayer Shawl Ministry in 1998. It has developed into a worldwide ecumenical ministry.
The prayer shawl ministry combines the love of knitting or crocheting with the atmosphere of prayer as the maker of the shawl prays before, during and after it has been created.
In 2006, after associate Mary Lou Rathers experienced being a part of the prayer shawl group in Florida, she volunteered to start the SSJ Associate prayer shawl ministry. A small group of associates, sisters and friends came together once a month to pray and make prayer shawls. Thirteen years later, this group continues to meet. Some associates who can’t attend make shawls at home and send them.
Since 2006, hundreds of prayer shawls have been given to individuals in need of prayers and comfort while dealing with health issues, grief, or loneliness. Shawls are also given on the occasion of a retirement, milestone birthday, anniversary, or new beginnings.
The SSJ Associate Prayer Shawl Ministry has touched the lives of people near and far. Agrégée Betsy Wiest recently sent shawls to Dr. W. L. Scheller, a former faculty member at Gannon University who now lives in Nebraska and cares for his mom. In his thank you note he shared, “She and I are both very moved and blessed that the sisters took the time to pray for us while making our shawls. As I have said before, the prayers are very much appreciated. I believe it is the power of prayer which has brought her so far.”
This is what makes the SSJ Mission Possible!