Sister Reine Driscoll, R.S.R., middle, with the winner of the Christmas Quilt Janet Driscoll and grandson Jacob Driscoll. Photo courtesy of Sister Reine Driscoll, R.S.R.
I look at quilting as a process of stitching together the spiritual and financial needs of St. Augustine, a tiny isolated community on the Lower North Shore.
People who live in this small village are very close to nature, and their craft-y ideas flow from their fingers like wild berry plants creeping over small mossy islands.
Why would a pastoral animator with so little free time on her hands take up quilting as a hobby?
The art of making patched quilts was passed down to my sisters and me by our dear mom who had no other choice but to make different quilts, to keep her large family warm during the cold winter nights, as far back as I can remember.
Thus, each year, our parish organizes a pre-Christmas fundraising event to support some of our financial needs. The ladies of our parish are encouraged to donate a craft as a prize for the spinning wheel. This is where I got the idea of making a quilt, as one big prize for the event.
To carry out this project, I had to find time to work at it, outside of my ministry hours. When you really want to carry out a project, you will always find a way of doing it.
I always consider my summer holidays as a time of being with my religious community and also for doing things that are relaxing, which I never have the time to do as a pastoral animator. So, each year, I take two weeks of my holidays to do different crafts for fundraising events, especially quilting.
To me, quilting is the art of stitching together the spiritual needs of others, because the work of our hands expresses our love and concern for others. Each square on a patch quilt can become a prayer for a family, or a person in need of Jesus’ healing hand.
Each person who is the lucky winner of the different quilts I stitched together is told that they are winning not just another warm blanket but a “praying quilt” that was put together with praying hands, an expression of my love for the members of our parish.
The pattern for each quilt has its own story, and the winners are aware of it.
Sister Reine Driscoll, a Sister of Our Lady of the Rosary, is pastoral administrator of St. Augustine parish in the Diocese of Baie-Comeau, Northern Quebec.