Arlington parishioners cloak Uvalde survivors in warmth and prayer
ARLINGTON — For longtime St. Vincent de Paul parishioner Dan Mathys, taking a 12-hour round trip drive to Uvalde was just the right thing to do.
On June 2, he and his wife Pam took the day off to take 30 prayer shawls to the victims of the school shooting massacre that left 19 children and two teachers dead, along with 17 wounded.
They delivered the shawls to Sacred Heart Church in Uvalde, where many of the victims’ families are parishioners. The shawls were distributed to the families who lost children in the shooting, to the children who were hospitalized, to the grandmother of the shooter, and to the families of the two teachers who died.
“It was something we could do to help,” Dan Mathys said. “It was a privilege to do it. My wife was given one of these [shawls] some years ago when her father passed. It was comforting to her. So we’ve seen it work.”
The shawls, which were carefully and prayerfully made (volunteers pray as they knit or crochet them) by St. Vincent de Paul’s Prayer Shawl Ministry, let the grieving families know they are being prayed for 352 miles away in Arlington. After the shawls are completed, they are blessed and volunteers pair it with prayer cards.
The group, led by Jan Nelson and Jo-Lee Buncic, comprises close to 40 members.
“People from our parish, the community, or other parishes reach out to us when they know of someone sick, hospitalized, in treatment, experiencing grief, or in need of comfort or encouragement,” Buncic said.
The longtime St. Vincent de Paul parishioner, who has served with the ministry since January 2010, said the volunteers’ hearts were “torn by the very sad event.
“As individuals we immediately began to pray. We were left with a feeling of helplessness. [But] our experience has been that after people receive shawls, they often write to us and share their experiences of peace, love, warmth, and calm,” she explained. “We thought if we could share that with some of those suffering in Uvalde, we truly wanted to do it.”