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The Florida Catholic

Knit, purl and prayer

JENSEN BEACH  |  St. Martin de Porres Parish’s Knitting Angels ministry, which began in 2008 to provide prayer shawls for the sick and homebound, has grown by leaps and bounds, reaching out to other charitable organizations to help the needy.

The ministry group knits and crochets shawls, afghans, lap blankets, chemotherapy hats and sleeves and scarves for the needy, along with providing baptismal blankets that are presented to the newly baptized. Marcella DeSimone, one of the Knitting Angels, said, “We make all-white baptismal blankets, and sometimes I make the little hats also.”

“We all feel blessed that we have the talent to knit and purl, especially to be able to make blankets for people in nursing homes who are in wheelchairs,” said ministry member Anne Arnold. “This is what Thanksgiving is all about, giving thanks for our blessings and sharing that with others.”

Barbara Dixon, Respect Life ministry coordinator at Jensen Beach parish, said, “I am here to pick up booties, hats and blankets for multiple places such as Birthline/Lifeline and also for the Women’s Pregnancy Solutions ultrasound van because, when the girls come in and get an ultrasound, we give them a booty. It is a beautiful thing to help them choose life.”

The ministry also donates to organizations that help the needy outside Florida, sending boxes of items to the Christ Child Society of New Jersey, Appalachian Outreach in Kentucky and a ministry in New York. The organizations distribute those items directly to the needy.

Nick MacLeod, operations manager of St. Martin de Porres Parish, expressed his joy and admiration for the ministry volunteers. “I enjoy all the ladies here at the Knitting Angels and what they do to provide blankets for the newly baptized, and also hats, socks and blankets for the needy in colder climates.”

Greg Cannata, director of family life and faith formation, also knits for the ministry. “I have been doing this for a little over a year,” he said. “The ladies taught me. I do this because this is a church ministry and I thought it was a good idea to get to know the members of the parish.”

Father J. Scott Adams, pastor of the parish, said he appreciates what the ministry does for the church and those in need.

“When I came here in January 2020, months before COVID, as a newly appointed parochial administrator and now the pastor, I came to see all the ministries. When I came to see the Knitting Angels, I figured there would be four or five ladies, and I couldn’t imagine that there would be almost 30,” he said.

“I asked the ladies to make for us the white garments that we use for the baptisms, and that is a really nice touch for people who bring their children for baptism to get a baptismal blanket,” Father Adams said. “That is a nice take-away to know that our ladies here have done that. It is a fantastic ministry.”  

Judy Morin, Knitting Angels treasurer, knitted a doll in the image of the parish’s patron saint, St. Martin de Porres, as a gift from the group to their pastor. Father Adams keeps it in his office for visitors to see.

The knitted doll has a black and white cloak representing St. Martin’s religious order, the Third-Order Dominicans. The broom that the doll holds shows the saint’s humble work of cleaning the abbey. The cross in his hands represents St. Martin’s love of the cross.

“St. Martin de Porres, our patron saint, was an interracial relations saint, and for our parish picnic we have done it as a tradition now — it will be an international festival,” Father Adams said. “Next year is our 50th anniversary. People will make different foods representing their heritage. We are trying to bring our ministries to our community.”

The Knitting Angels ministry meets Thursdays, in the parish hall from 2 to 4 p.m. At 3 p.m., everyone stops knitting and crocheting and prays until 3:15, then resumes their work. For more information on the Knitting Angels, call Phyllis Yamashita at 772-934-6753 or email her at The ministry accepts monetary donations to help defray the cost of postage for packages that are mailed to those in need.

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