Anniversary Quilt Created with Love
Patricia SzPekowski, Observer Correspondent
March 31, 2022
It’s been said that a goal is a dream with a deadline. 
 
Back in 2018 when St. Mary Parish in McHenry celebrated its 125th anniversary, long-time parishioners shared and displayed treasured photos and memorabilia collected over the years.
 
But a group of long-time, dedicated, and talented parishioners wanted to do more for their beloved parish. After brainstorming ideas, they decided —  why not create an historical quilt? 
 
Four creative women, Jean Samen, sisters Lois Shea and Joan Shea, and Mary Kay Welter got to work and masterfully created a detailed quilt design honoring and depicting the history of St. Mary’s. They diligently worked on the quilt from their own homes for over a year and continued through the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
 
Delayed as the pandemic continued in 2021, they waited for the next steps. And now, after nearly four years,  their vision became reality and their goal is complete. 
 
Father David Austin, pastor, unveiled and blessed the framed 78 inch by 54  inch quilt in St. Mary’s vestibule on March 28.
 
The 125th Anniversary historic quilt was truly a labor love by each quilter who mastered and completed different parts, adding beauty to the historic significance of the art piece.  
 
“There is great artistic detail and skill in the creation of this beautiful quilt,” said Father Austin. “The story of our parish is on display here as we remember our past, mark our present, and point to the future.”
 
The quilt’s centerpiece is a depiction of the exterior of the church. It is surrounded by various visual representations, such as the church’s mission statement, its ministries, service organizations, a rosary, and key St. Mary events.  It also includes miscellaneous historical photos and the church’s 11 pastors from founding pastor Msgr. Charles Nix to Father Austin today.
 
 “I was able to convert and transfer our historical photos to fabric,” said Samen, “and we put the entire quilt together on the floor at my home.”  
 
Lois and Joan Shea, who owned a quilt store in McHenry before retiring 20 years ago, were a driving force in creating the detailed church building on the quilt. They are humble about their accomplishments, but beamed with pride when Father Austin dropped  the quilt covering to the floor and the crowd voiced its delight.
 
The quilt highlights St. Mary, modeled after the church’s Franz Zettler German stained glass window of Mary Assumed into Heaven. 
 
The crowning touch is a painting of Mary’s face on the quilt by local artist and parishioner, Lucy Tonyan.  
 
Celeste Mann, educator, administrator, and St. Mary’s choir director, coordinated the efforts from the beginning, including the task of asking and collecting funds to help defray the costs of framing and encasing the quilt. 
 
“Peterson Picture Co. in Chicago installed the framed art piece several days before our dedication,” said Mann. “Our quilt frame campaign continues with a total goal of $5,300. We are getting closer to reach completion.”
 
When deciding where to hang the 125th Anniversary quilt, Father Austin said he felt it would best serve the parish by being hung right in the church’s entrance. 
 
“It is my hope that our future generations will see it and be inspired to do what they can to build the Kingdom of God,” he said.

 

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