Prayer shawls part of RNDM celebrations
By Frank Flegel
REGINA — Prayer shawls, 160 of them, were on display June 14 in the chapel of Cathedral Court, the first visible symbol of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions (RNDM) celebration of their 150th anniversary. The sisters living in Regina got together to explore what would be a good project to celebrate their anniversary.
“One of our sisters said how about prayer shawls, and I said, ‘Let’s do 150 of them,’ and we got going on it,” said Sister Anna Aulie, chair of the 150th anniversary celebrations.
Aulie said there are about 25 RNDM sisters living in the Regina area and they along with a couple of their community in Manitoba, and several friends and relatives knitted or crocheted the entire 160 shawls. They obtained a few patterns in a book put out by the prayer shawl ministry but most followed their own patterns.
“We prayed while we were making them for whoever it is that’s going to receive it and we knitted or crocheted the prayer into the shawl,” said Aulie. Prayer shawls are usually given to people who are ill or under some form of stress.
The shawls were of different sizes and shapes, of different material and despite the large number no pattern appeared to be duplicated. All showed creativity in design and intricacies in the work.
The shawls were displayed in the Cathedral Court Chapel, formerly Sacred Heart Academy, now a combination condo and rental facility where some of the sisters live along with other residents.
Aulie led a short prayer blessing over the shawls, including prayers for those who receive them.
The first RNDM missionaries arrived in Canada in 1898 and served specifically in Western Canada. They constituted one of the largest order of sisters serving on the prairies. Most remain in Saskatchewan, with a few in Manitoba and Central Canada. They were a familiar site in most Roman Catholic schools as teachers.
The prayer shawl ministry began about 15 years ago in Hartford, Conn. and about eight years ago found its way to a Grade 2 Class at St. Vital School, North Battleford. Teacher Jean Koslowski, now retired, told the class that her mother, then in a nursing home, had received a prayer shawl from Koslowski’s sister. The children thought it was a good idea and on their own started fundraising to buy the yarn and it took off from there, quickly spreading across the country.