Service: Stitching Together Something Special
Note: Our theme for the month of April is “Service.” Staff member Susie Pillsbury wrote this article about a ministry launched by the Sisters of the Holy Names nearly 30 years ago under the leadership of Sister Maureen Delaney, who began her term as U.S.-Ontario Provincial this year.
As the saying goes, “It takes a village…”
Back in 1987, Sister Maureen Delaney had just moved to Tutwiler, MS to start a community outreach from the Tutwiler medical clinic previously founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Sister Maureen said she would start programs and activities coming out of the needs and concerns of the people in this small rural area. It didn’t take long for her to notice the strong and longstanding tradition of quilting among Tutwiler’s women.
One of the most passionate of the quilters was Mary Sue Robertson. She made quilt tops faster than she could sell them. Stacked one on top of the other, her colorful mountain of fabric just kept growing.
So Sister Maureen bought some of Ms. Robertson’s quilt tops and asked for help turning them into full quilts. A village of women came together to turn the quilt tops into something wonderful. Some women attached backing, some quilted patterns and others hemmed the finished quilts. When this initial project was complete, they continued working together and met regularly in the back room of the Tutwiler Clinic.
Today, the Tutwiler women turn packets of fabric into quilts, table runners, placemats, bags and more. They create unique works of art inspired by how the fabric speaks to them, at the same time generating welcome economic activity for their community. Their work is sold online across the country; the quilters receive 80% of the sale proceeds while the rest goes to purchase more materials.
Like the fabric pieces that make up a Tutwiler quilt, Ms. Robertson, Sister Maureen, the quilters, the community center, and many others are stitched together in a beautiful pattern, making a strong and colorful community.