May 7, 2020

Love is Always Creative

Sr. M. Jean Frisk


Stay at Home and Stay Well!

One of Our Ways of Helping

Here at our International Schoenstatt Center, we have two homes where our Sisters stay: our provincial home and our retreat center. Both houses are usually buzzing with busyness. The retreat center welcomes people – literally – from all over the world. People want to learn about our founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, or to have a few days of retreat.

Our provincial home, on the other hand, is a nest and resting place for the Sisters for our own retreats, schooling days, novitiate, tertianships, vacations, health care, those who sew for us, and central administration for our large international province. Three languages reign here: German, our heritage language, English, our primary language, and Spanish, the home language of sisters from many areas of the province.

Safer at Home

So, what happens when suddenly, we, too, are in lockdown, just like much of the world right now? Outsiders no longer attend our holy Masses, the doorbells ring for UPS and other deliveries, but they simply put their boxes at the entrance. Does it sound like many of your homes, too?

But with all this we are greatly blessed! We have Father Robert, a priest from Burundi who fortunately resides here. We are not deprived of receiving Our Lord daily, nor do we fail to have truly uplifting liturgies. Our choir – and all those with instruments (guitars, recorders, clarinets, piano, organ, violin) – help us pray and sing our hearts out!

A Desire to Help

So, life flows on in the provincial home with daily happenings very much as usual. With one exception: our great desire to do what we can to serve those suffering under the pandemic. Of course, we pray urgently and hold extra hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. We call or write those who we know, especially the elderly, to encourage them and see how they are doing.

However, we also wanted to get involved by using our hands, our talents, our love, to find a way to serve. Then, came the call for masks – Yes! – face masks to protect those on the front lines! That was one way!! So, we prepared to have a BIG PROJECT DAY!

Supplies and Equipment Roll in for the Big Project

Both the retreat center and the provincial house figured out creative ways to make masks. Here at the provincial home, about twenty of us formed an assembly line process. But, just look at how Divine Providence came to our assistance! Prior to the pandemic, generous donors had repeatedly given us fabric in the hopes that we could find these leftover and dated fabrics useful. Sometimes, the donors gave us thread, elastic, and all sorts of other supplies. As March rolled around, Joanie, who works part time at the center, came for a day to help organize all these fabrics into types and categories (like Easter, Christmas, etc.). It turned out that we had twelve crates of fabric of all sorts. We even wondered how on earth these fabrics could be used!

In addition to the fabric and such supplies, and also prior to the pandemic, a kind donor offered us sewing machines – three of them!

Enter pandemic! Enter great need! Of items listed for homeless shelters, clinics, and other charities, face masks are often listed near the top of the needs. We truly could help!

When Each Does Her Part, Something Beautiful Results

Two full days were set aside for the big provincial household. A big gathering room was set up with seven sewing machines and lots of tables. When a sister came to help she could select what she would like to do:

  • iron fabric;
  • table 1: make and trace mask patterns on the fabric;
  • table 2: cut the fabric;
  • table 3: sort the pieces (four cotton pieces for the front and back, two bonded fabric pieces for a filter, forming three layers);
  • table 4: sew the layers;
  • table 5: pass on to a table with trimmers who also added elastic;
  • table 6: pass on to the next stage of sewing;
  • table 7: then back to those who turned the pieces;  back to another sewer;
  • and then finally, the insertion of a wire to make the mask snug around the nose.

Then at other table, there were those who cut the elastic, prepared headbands, sewed on buttons, and those who organized what went where. If it sounds complicated, it wasn’t, because each individual knew their precise part in the assembly. That truly impressed us. We realized that when each does her part, something beautiful results!

Much laughter was shared when mistakes were made or when fabrics turned out to be utterly unique and sometimes funny! By the end of the project, we estimate about 350 masks will have been made and distributed to homeless shelters, a hospital, Catholic Charities, and other places of need.

Love is Always Creative

So, what could we do in isolation? Love is always creative! Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary never lack original ideas of how to pitch in and serve.