Banding together in a time of great need, sisters and employees at Saint Mary’s took to snipping, pinning and sewing masks to add to the supply for the convent staff and for sisters who reside at the motherhouse.
Taking to heart the safety of co-workers and residents, the group initiated the effort in response to increased demand for dwindling medical supplies due to COVID-19. At the invitation of Clinical Nurse Manager Shelley Clemans, Jo Ann Heritz, Resident Services assistant, created several mask prototypes to get the project off the ground. Once perfected, the pattern was shared with Kathy Sosinski, seamstress for the convent.
Sisters offer assistance
“We found it was taking longer than we had time for,” says Shelley, so she requested names of sisters who might like to help. The call went out, and by the next morning several sister reinforcements were trimming and prepping fabric for assembly.
More sisters joined with Jo Ann, coordinator of the project, to do the sewing, while other sisters donated fabric to the cause. “The sisters like to work for me,” Jo Ann says jokingly, “Even though the pay isn’t good, the benefits are great— they can come to work and go home whenever they want.” Through this “stitch in time” community effort, the group turned out more than 600 masks. “The sisters and staff mobilized quickly for this mission,” Shelley says.
Sister Helene Sharp, CSC, began making masks after her niece’s husband was diagnosed with the coronavirus. Her doctor’s office, too, “said they would love to have some masks,” she says. Then came the request for masks at Saint Mary’s. “I have been working on it since then, and sharing the pattern with my email friends,” says Sister Helene. “This is one tiny way that I can help from near and afar.”
Hundreds more masks have arrived, donated from supporters who heard about the effort, says Kay Mach, director of Pastoral and Spiritual Care. “The mask project truly reflects the mission of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, which states: ‘Compassion moves us to reflect on the signs of the times, discern needs and respond.’ And all those involved—the entire community of sisters and staff—responded with love and compassion.”