Translate »

blessings in every stitch

JVC Northwest is proud to bring back its monthly Featured Former JV post by highlighting Teresa Knipper (Tacoma, WA ’83-84). Teresa was recently awarded the “Catholic Women in Service to the Community” recognition by the Diocese of Trenton’s Mount Carmel Guild for her work with prayer shawl ministry. In her own words Teresa describes the history of prayer shawls and how they have made a profound impact on her life.


PrayerShawlBefore I delve into my own history with prayer shawls, a brief history on them is helpful. In 1998, Janet Severi Bristow and Victoria Galo, two graduates of the 1997 Women’s Leadership Institute at The Hartford Seminary in Hartford, CT, gave birth to this ministry as a result of their experience in a program of applied Feminist Spirituality. Compassion and the love of knitting/crocheting have been combined into a prayerful ministry and spiritual practice which reaches out to those in need of comfort and solace, as well as in celebration and joy. Many blessings are prayed into every stitch.

PrayerShawlsTag Whether they are called Prayer Shawls, Comfort Shawls, Peace Shawls, Mantles, etc., the shawl maker begins with prayers and blessings for the recipient. The intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl. Upon completion, a final blessing is offered before the shawl is sent on its way. Some recipients have continued the kindness by making a shawl and passing it onto someone in need. Thus, the blessing ripples from person-to-person, with both the giver and receiver feeling the unconditional embrace of a sheltering, mothering God.

I started the prayer shawl ministry at my parish in Princeton, New Jersey in 2005. Since then we have given out over 1000 shawls to grieving families, cancer patients, new church members, and wedded couples. One especially poignant ministry that we have contributed to is Prayer Shawls for Fallen Soldiers, a ministry at the Air PrayerShawlsBlessingForce base in Dover, DE that gives shawls to families of soldiers as their remains are received on the tarmac from overseas. My group also contributed to the effort in Connecticut to provide shawls for every family involved in the tragic Sandy Hook School shooting.

This ministry is the place where the passion of my creativity and love of color strikes against the need in the world, and it is a place of community where healing can begin. It draws people together in ways that we could not predict. In November my group will be sponsoring an ecumenical gathering of prayer shawl ministries in the greater Princeton area to build extending circles of support and fellowship.

TeresaKnipperAwardI was recently a humble recipient of the “Catholic Women in Service to the Community” recognition by the Diocese of Trenton’s Mount Carmel Guild on October 17, 2014 for work in my parish with prayer shawl ministry. As I said in my acceptance speech, I firmly believe that “these shawls bring healing and comfort in an embodied and prayerful way for both the giver and the receiver”.

I feel my Jesuit education at the University of Scranton and my subsequent service in JVC Northwest taught me that there are no “innocent bystanders” in life. There are frail and marginalized people in your town , on your street, or perhaps in your own home whose suffering you can help to alleviate or simply accompany in their pain. JVC Northwest gave me the vision to see that person but also to discern my own response to that aching need in the world.

4 thoughts on “blessings in every stitch”

  1. I would like to contact this ministry. A hurting person needs a prayer shawl. I would like to buy it for her anonously. Thank you. Peace, Mary

    • Hi Mary, we can reach out to Teresa and include your contact information so she can reach out to you directly. Thank you for reading and for your interest in the topic.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Translate »

Upcoming Virtual Events

Get to Know JVC Northwest

Tuesday, November 30 | 6:00pm ET / 3:00pm PT

Join us to learn all the basics about a year of service in the Pacific Northwest, including where you can serve, what you might do, and how to apply. Our Recruiter, Zayna, will also share her experience as a JV in both Alaska and Montana. Finally, we’ll open it up for an informal Q+A.

Discerning Post-Grad Service Roundtable

Thursday, December 2 | 6:30pm ET / 3:30pm PT

Led by Greg Carpinello, Executive Director of JVC Northwest, this roundtable will explore how to discern if a service-year program is right for you.

Prior to joining JVC Northwest in 2019, Greg worked at both Xavier University and Boston College where he helped accompany students through post-grad discernment processes.

Zayna Abusada

JVC Northwest Recruiter

Zayna Abusada (Ashland, MT ’17-18, Anchorage, AK ’18-19) was most recently a JV in south-central Alaska serving with immigrant and refugee English-Language learners as the Academy for Citizenship and Civics Support Specialist with the Alaska Literacy Program (ALP) in Anchorage. Zayna first served with Indigenous students on the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Reservations. Originally from Iowa City, Iowa, Zayna went on to earn her undergraduate degree in History and Theological Studies with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies at Saint Louis University.

Catch Zayna at an Event Near You!

11/2/202112pm – 1pmOregon StateVirtualInfo Session w/ College of Liberal Arts and Education
11/2/20217pm-9pm ESTBoston College/St. Anselm/Holy CrossVirtualPost Grad Service Fair
11/2/202112pm-2:30pmManhattan CollegeIn PersonPost Grad Service Fair
11/4/20211:30pm – 4:30pmCatholic UniversityIn PersonLong-Term Service Fair
11/7/2021 IFTJIn PersonIFTJ
11/10/20218:30am-12pmSaint LouisIn PersonService Fair
11/15/20212pm-4pmVillanovaIn PersonPost Grad Service Fair
11/16/20212pm-4pmUniversity of ScrantonIn PersonPost Grad Service Fair
11/17/20211pm-3pmSaint Joseph’s UniversityIn PersonPost Grad Service Fair