Quilting: Patchwork & Prayer Ministry

The Quilt and Craft Market at Mariandale, Sunday, November 17, 2019
Sponsored and created by the Patchwork and Prayer Ministry, led by Sr. Donna Brunell


The idea of a patchwork and prayer ministry began in 2013 following the Stitching a Heritage and Legacy of Quilts exhibit and fundraiser held at Mariandale to honor the late Nancy Murphy, whose widower, Michael, had uncovered several large bins of unfinished projects she had left in a corner of the attic. That story garnered huge publicity in local newspapers and drew a significant number of quilters and friends to Mariandale.

Soon after the show was over, Sister Donna Brunell, inspired by local quilters who had worked tirelessly for several months to help finish the quilts, responded to their enthusiasm for continuing to create quilts for a cause by setting up a program to do just that, now known as the Patchwork & Prayer Ministry.

The Patchwork & Prayer Ministry provides both experienced and beginning quilters an opportunity to make quilts for those in need of the warmth and comfort a quilt, made with love, can give. The completed quilts are given to individuals or causes decided upon by the group.

Organizations that have distributed quilts for us have been The North Country Mission of Hope, which sends quilts to Nicaragua and other areas hit by disasters, as well as the Newburgh Ministry, which provides shelter, clothing, and basic needs for people in the local community. Special labels, printed in both English and Spanish, are attached to each quilt. The touching photos we receive of our quilts being appreciated by recipients gives us all the incentive we need to continue our ministry.

The one day a month meetings later extended to two days and presently, when the space is available, three or more days are added. The quilters, now numbering up to ten at any given month, not only relish the luxury of the extra table space they don’t have at home, but more importantly the sense of community that has developed and grown over the years.

Marilyn Cambigianis shares her story of connecting with the group:

In the spring of 2013, I moved up to Croton, and while exploring the area, got lost in Ossining. I had driven by a sign that said “Quilt Show Today.” I immediately turned around to see what it was about, and little did I know that Mariandale would be such an important discovery. I discovered an incredible group of women displaying beautiful handmade quilts who cordially invited me to join them in a new venture called Patchwork and Prayer Ministry. It has been a rewarding and fulfilling six years.  For me, quilting with P&PM has become a means of not only artistic self-discovery and development of sewing skills, but also experiencing the camaraderie of being with women who share the same interests while at the same time creating and providing quilts for those in need.  Moving late in life and trying to make new and meaningful acquaintances at any age is never easy, but I have been ever mindful and very thankful of the development of lasting friendships with the women of P&PM. Patchwork and Prayer Ministry has given me a sense of purpose and inner peace.”

Patricia Werner has this to say:I think the Patchwork and Prayer Ministry is wonderful. It gives me a chance to practice a hobby I love and has developed friendships I treasure.  I’m always in awe of the creativity I witness – and the ability to use the work and play of our hands to benefit others adds to the joy.  The things we make may be a gift to others but the Patchwork and Prayer Ministry is also a gift to ourselves.”

Carole Burton shares:  “Our Patchwork and Prayer Ministry has been and continues to be a huge blessing in my life. It provides a wonderful environment every month at Mariandale to be with women who love making quilts. We also cherish being together, which includes prayer time and generous space to work together and share ideas. Several years ago, three of us traveled to Newburgh, NY, to visit the Newburgh Ministry,  where many of our quilt donations are sent. We were given a tour of the facility and saw firsthand how and where the fruits of our sewing are utilized and appreciated by the people who reside there.  It was truly inspiring to realize that what gives us so much pleasure to create means so much to those who are in such dire need not only for a warm quilt but also for the love and caring that goes into every stitch.”

Quilting as a Contemplative Practice 

Want to learn why quilters find working with fabric relaxing and de-stressing? Want to explore how to create something with your own hands that is both beautiful and gift-worthy? Individual and group lessons to get you started are available for both hand-piecing and machine piecing.

Anyone interested in learning more about getting started in quilting may contact Sr. Donna Brunell at dbrunell@mariandale.org


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