Walking Our Faith: Knitters and crocheters needed

It is one thing to sit around a cozy table at Next Page Books & Nosh in Frisco, drinking tea, knitting prayer shawls and laughing with a group of women who I’ve come to think of as sisters.

We haven’t been able to meet like this since the pandemic began a year and a half ago, but that is exactly what every Wednesday afternoon would find us doing for years before.

It is entirely different, and very sobering, to be handed a box containing thank-you notes from the people who received those prayer shawls.

One woman received her prayer shawl while at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center and clutched it through the night as she tried to sleep before a second serious operation. During her first operation, her heart had stopped, and she had to be resuscitated. On the night before the second operation, the prayer shawl soothed her as she fought a panic attack.

Another prayer shawl found its way to a woman who visited Summit County with her family for a respite provided by Domus Pacis Family Respite as she recovered from breast cancer.

A husband sent a thank-you card for the prayer shawl his wife received during the last weeks of her life, saying she wore it to keep her warm.

Homebound seniors received a lap blanket with their delivery of Meals on Wheels during the pandemic.

A nurse in the maternity ward sent a thank-you note to say that one of the baby blankets had been given to a young couple whose baby died before it was born.

These are a sampling of the notes Maggie Ducayet, founder of the St. John’s Prayer Shawl Knitting Group, handed me when I asked for one example of how the prayer shawl ministry had impacted those who received the shawls.

How to help

The Prayer Shawl Knitting Group needs more knitters and crocheters to meet the growing demand for shawls, baby blankets and lap blankets.

If you or someone you know knits or crochets, or would like to learn, email Ducayet at

In Ducayet’s own words:

Some of life’s most meaningful moments have the simplest beginnings. Who would have guessed that the gift of a shawl to someone who needs the physical, loving touch that a shawl can bring would start a chain reaction that would be felt in so many places and in so many ways.

The prayer shawl ministry started almost 15 years ago at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Breckenridge as an outreach of the church, and the small group has knitted and crocheted many hundreds of shawls.

Many members of the group have been together for the whole time, others have come and gone, and some join us when they can. It started with us making and giving away shawls that are blessed to people we know or had heard of who needed a hug in the form of a prayer shawl, which wraps them in love and caring with no strings attached.

We give away this sign of love for comfort and caring. Shawl recipients will see that there is hope for tomorrow, that no one is completely alone and that someone out there cares enough to put time and love into making a shawl.

I come from a family that shows their love in many ways but especially with hugs. What comfort a good hug can bring! Sometimes it can make you laugh, sometimes it can bring you to your knees, but it always offers comfort in so many ways. Prayer shawls are those hugs to so many people.

I used to keep a cigar box (which has now expanded to a much larger shoe box) with thank-you notes. I sometimes take the time to look at some of the notes, which fill my heart, and I often find myself weeping for the love that is expressed in the notes and the stories of the love and comfort that so many have found in the simple gesture of being wrapped in the love and comfort of the shawl.

I have sent shawls overnight to people desperately needing the comfort the shawls bring. People have been buried with their shawls. They represent something different to everyone who receives them, but the one thing they bring to everyone is comfort and love.

No two shawls look the same; they are all as different as the people who receive them. We knit and crochet together once a week and have become like family to one another. People come and go and join us as they can. We have taught people to knit and crochet, and we provide the yarn and supplies.

To date, we have given away almost a thousand shawls. We have expanded our outreach to give shawls to our local hospital and Domus Pacis, which offers a respite for people facing life-altering situations because of illness or death. Shawls are always available through St. John the Baptist Church in Breckenridge.

We love welcoming new group members, and they are often people who have received a shawl themselves or have gotten a shawl for family members or friends.

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