By Sister Kathleen Kull
Many of us, I imagine, track life since 2020 in terms of “pre-pandemic – pandemic – post-pandemic.” Those days, months and years are full of images, conversations, realities, and experiences never before envisioned.
For me, I never imagined that the huge supply of yarn I ordered for St. John’s Bread and Life in the fall of 2019 would remain untouched until the fall of 2022. Truly unbelievable!
Our congregation has consistently and generously provided financial support to SJBL through the Ministry Fund and from donations of individual sisters, local communities and associates. Some of these funds are used to supply yarn for SJBL’s “Bread and Thread” crocheting and knitting group. With 15-20 participants receiving one skein of yarn each week, the yarn moved rather quickly – until it didn’t!
The Wellesley Connection! When the “Bread and Thread” group met on March 4, 2020 I told SJBL’s Associate Executive Director Sister Marie Sorenson I would not be at the March 11 group, but at the ESR/Marillac Boards of Directors meeting. My plan: sort that November 2019 huge order of yarn before the March 18 group.
The rest, as the saying goes, is history! The pandemic arrived – everything immediately shut down. Guests are still unable to come inside SJBL for meals, groups, and some other services. However, throughout the pandemic and since, food has been provided to some of NYC’s most impoverished communities in Brooklyn and Queens.
When I finally sorted the yarn this fall, I wondered how it could be used. It’s unknown if the “Bread and Thread” group will resume. Meanwhile, a new population of guests arrived at SJBL – migrants from the US-Mexican border. Among their needs – baby blankets – a perfect match for the yarn.
Again, the Wellesley Connection! Sister Anne Power said sisters there might want to join this endeavor. Before Sister Marie and I could pursue this, Sister Anne had another great suggestion – use some of the yarn to respond to a request Wellesley received to make hats and scarves for homeless women.
The rest, once again, is history! Mary Gregory, Marillac Director of Activities, gratefully received yarn for the homeless project and said sisters may also want to be part of the blanket endeavor. I gave Mary the first “trunk full” of 115 skeins of yarn on January 10. When I returned with another “trunk full” of 145 skeins on February 6, Mary greeted me with 11 beautiful baby blankets. As of February 27, 9 more have been completed. How many blankets will I be greeted with in March?
“It is pure potential. Every ball or skein of yarn holds something inside it, and the great mystery of what that might be can be almost spiritual.” (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee: Knitting Rules! The Yarn Harlot Unravels the Mysteries of Swatching, Stashing, Ribbing & Rolling to Free Your Inner Knitter)
You may wonder how many skeins were in that huge supply of yarn mentioned at the outset: 400 from that November 2019 order, plus what we already had at SJBL as well as some from another donation – somewhere between 500 and 600 skeins! What’s the potential of that many skeins of yarn?
Sister Anne Power
The Initiator of “The Wellesley Connection” is now learning to knit!
Sister Marie Sorenson at SJBL – after packing the second “trunk full” – 145 skeins of yarn!
Arriving at Wellesley
Here I am arriving at Wellesley, with the 145 skeins of yarn.
Welcome at Wellesley
Mary Gregory greets me with the 11 baby blankets made by some of the sisters at Wellesley from the first “trunk full” of 115 skeins of yarn!
11 Baby Blankets
Sister Aileen Halleran
Since 2014 some sisters in NY have gathered monthly to visit, pray and do handiwork for the needy at SJBL. After a “pandemic hiatus”, the group – including Sister Aileen Halleran – resumed meeting in October of 2022. Sister Aileen, now a Marillac resident, joins in the “Wellesley Welcome”.
Sister Mary Louise Brink
This group has eagerly embraced the blanket project. Here’s Sister Mary Louise Brink with her beautiful baby blanket. Sister Mary Lou will be part of the “Wellesley Connection” in a new way when she soon becomes a Marillac resident.
The mother folds the blanket in half to carry the baby on her back.
Other members of the NY Crocheting and Knitting Circle include Sister Susan Dean, former member Mary Kelnhofer McMahon, Sisters Maureen Murphy, Rose Annina Stehle and myself.
Mary gave a local nursing home resident some of the yarn. Here is what this woman created for SJBL.
Sister Rose generously donated practical items while working on the blankets.
More finished blankets from Wellesley!