‘Every stitch a prayer’: Women’s group knits, crochets to help service organizations

August 6, 2018

The group has given out handmade prayer shawls, as well as hats, gloves and other items to several different organizations.

FLORENCE, S.C. — A ball of yarn will eventually run out, but the Women of the St. Anthony Prayer Shawl Ministry hope to make their yarn have an everlasting impact.

Every Thursday afternoon, the Women of St. Anthony Prayer Shawl Ministry gather at St. Anthony Catholic Church on Hoffmeyer Road to use their skills in knitting and crocheting to help others.

The group has given out handmade prayer shawls, as well as hats, gloves and other items to several organizations, including Help 4 Kids, several veterans groups, McLeod Hospice and the Felician Center.

Patti Musto said the group started more than 10 years ago when she retired and was looking for a way to make a difference with the skills she possessed.

“I put an insert in the church bulletin saying ‘come knit or crochet with me,’” Musto said. “We like to knit and crochet for our kids and family, but they all have enough hats, gloves, prayer shawls and stuff like that. We do this because we like to do this craft and we want to give it to somebody that will really appreciate it.”

One of the group’s members, Betty Taylor, has her husband, Ralph, drive her from Dillon to Florence every week to crochet butterflies for McLeod Hospice with the group.

Her goal has been to create 1,000 butterflies each year and she has been making them for the hospice center for 11 years.

“I just enjoy making them,” Taylor said. “When I found out how much they meant to the patients and the families, it just kept me going. I don’t provide as much as I used to, but I figured that this is my donation and I really just love getting to make them and be a part of this group.”

The group said that Taylor is the only one who makes the butterflies. Taylor is referred to as the “Butterfly Lady” by the McLeod Hospice team.

Ralph and Betty have been married for 62 years and although Ralph said he does not knit, the group enjoys his company.

“We affectionately call him ‘Honey,’” Musto said.

Maribeth Osborne, Betty’s daughter, said the group is like a family.

“I’ve gotten to know these women just through the stories from mom,” Osborne said. “I know how important it is for Mom to be able to come down here. When Dad’s not feeling well, I’m able to bring her and you really can just see that they’re a family. They pray for one another. They’re sisters in Christ. It means a lot for her to have an outlet with a group that cares so much about both her and my dad.”

Betty said the group has helped her through the years.

“It helps each and every one of us when something good or bad happens,” Taylor said. “We know we have someone to talk to and that everybody is with you.”

Eldonna Ewers, one of the group’s members, said the ministry gives the women an outlet to make a difference.

“Some of us want to volunteer, but for health reasons we can’t necessarily do as much as we had before,” Ewers said. “We still feel like we’re contributing and it’s just a good feeling. This is a very social group. Sometimes we don’t get much done, but we have a great time.”

Musto said the group is open to anyone interested in learning how to knit or crochet.

“Every stitch is a prayer,” Musto said. “We are praying for the people we are giving these to and that really makes a difference. We also want to invite anybody that would like to come. We’ve taught people how to knit and crochet. Come in and we guarantee you’ll have a fun time.”

Julie Manley said she learned to knit when she joined the group.

“I’m a case and point,” Manley said. “Patti kept asking me when I was going to retire so that I could join them to knit. I joined and I love this group. They are like family and we have a great time together talking and making these things for the community.”

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