Prayer-Blanket Ministry Unites Parishioners with the Sick
St Matthew's Parish
Jacksonville, FL 32210
Diocese of St Augustine
For more information, contact Annie McCranie at 904 389 9221.
Parishioners find joy in giving prayers and comfort to those in need.
Thanks to this ministry, our parish has seen healings from cancer, depression, kidney infections, difficult pregnancies, post-abortion trauma, family problems, and more.
Prayer blanket ministry leader, St Matthew's Parish, Jacksonville, FL
The need it meets
Prayer blankets comfort the sick and give parishioners a concrete and enjoyable way to join in an act of charity and solidarity.
Where it came from
This very old ministry has experienced a resurgence in parishes across the US. The ministry was introduced to St Matthew's through the local St Vincent de Paul Society.
How it works
Requests come in. When the ministry is starting up, people can be encouraged to send in their requests and intentions. Some parishes use a request form; others simply provide a contact person.
Sew. A group of people get together every month to make the blankets, which can be made in any style (knitted, sewn, etc.). St Matthew's Parish holds a monthly "blanket bee" with an open invitation to all parishioners to come, pray, and sew together.
Bless the blankets. The blankets are placed before the altar at Mass on the last Sunday of the month, and the congregation prays for the recipients. The pastor then blesses the blankets.
Give them out when requested or simply provide them as needed by sick, depressed, or anxious parishioners; patients in nearby hospitals; babies at risk; military personnel overseas; survivors of terrorist attacks or natural disasters, pregnant women, post-abortive women, etc.
Include catechetical elements. Some parishes include a rosary with instructions on how to pray it as well as a card about the blanket ministry and an invitation to join.
At St. Matthew's, it started with six St. Vincent de Paul Society volunteers in August of 2006 and has grown to include the entire parish: getting donations, making blankets in the blanket bee, and helping distribute them. New people frequently drop in to help make the blankets. So far, over 400 blankets have been distributed.
A spirit of solidarity unites the entire parish in the act of giving. Twenty to thirty people attend each blanket bee; half a dozen other elderly members make blankets at home.
Spiritual growth for participants, who pray the rosary together as they make the blankets. The blanket bee creates an atmosphere of prayer and peace.
Great comfort and some miraculous healings have galvanized the faith of parishioners. The prayers of the community have resulted in healings from cancer, depression, kidney infections, difficult pregnancies, post-abortion trauma (Rachel's Vineyard requests 10 blankets every quarter), family problems, and more.
Grateful recipients become givers as the ministry gives parishioners an active role in the apostolate.
- A lay person who will gather other volunteers and organize the project.
- A way to get the word out (announcements, testimonies) so that others know about the ministry and can choose to participate.
How to implement it
- Propose the idea to a few lay people in the parish.
- Have them contact a lay person who is involved in the ministry in another parish. This link lists names and phone numbers of people who can be contacted for practical guidance (scroll down to the end): http://www.staugcatholic.org/archives/html/2006/december/feature2.shtml
- Support the initiative with an announcement at Mass or a note in the parish bulletin.
Fr Luke McLoughlin is pastor of
St Matthew's Parish.