St. Peter’s Prayer Shawl Ministry

This blog post was contributed by St. Peter’s parishioner Hannah Poole.

photoMy nephew was murdered when he was 23. Last week would have been his 30th birthday. It was an isolated event. His immediate family’s lives have been permanently altered, but they do not live in an area that is familiar with violent death.

For many people in our city, murder of a loved one is not unusual. Perhaps only one in their immediate family has been struck down, but on their block, in their neighborhood, there can be many more.

Living with the agony of having one family member slaughtered, I can’t imagine the weight of grief on those who have lost their own, whose friends have lost their own, whose community has lost half a generation.

On October 23, Pat Fusco and I (in foreground in photo at right) met some of the women who grieve, when we brought prayer shawls to the Grief Support Group of Mothers In Charge, at the Louis Sullivan Human Service Center. Members of this group have lost a child or grandchild to violence. We gave the shawls to the women in that group, and they gave us their stories.

We met the faces behind the headlines. There were five women there that night, and three of their stories were familiar from the news. Their children had been killed by police within a few weeks of each other. The stories they shared were not what we had read. They were the stories of mothers (and grandmothers) who grieve for their babies. Who rationalize their children’s behavior. Who are in lengthy court cases trying to find justice. Who have (perhaps) seen justice not done.

Every one cried as they named their boys and told the date and means of death. One has been coming to the support group for years and still cries for her son.

These women are the face of resilience. They grieve in the space allowed them for grieving, and then they get up and live. And fight for their boys, for all the children were not much more than boys.

Pat and I found things in common, we laughed, we shared sweet tea that was way too sweet. The women loved the shawls. As there were more shawls than women, they picked the ones they wanted, then held out ones for others who weren’t there (the group totals about 15). We can only hope that they will enjoy the warmth and coziness of our shawls and remember that someone is out there rooting for them.

The mission of Mothers In Charge is violence prevention, education and intervention for youth, young adults, families and community organizations. In addition, Mothers In Charge works with elected officials on legislation to support safe neighborhoods and communities for children and families and collaborates with community and faith based organizations. Go to for more information.

The prayer shawl ministry at St. Peter’s began in response to the massacres at Sandy Hook. It has delivered about 30 shawls to people affected by the storm and to MIC. The remaining shawls will be given to St. Barnabas, when current shawls are completed. If you have one at home that you never finished, please bring it to the office so someone else can complete it. Clean-up elves are at work!

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