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Threads of reflection: a lace making retreat.

CONCORDIA, KAN. * About 18 women attended a lace-making retreat June 18-25 at the Manna House of Prayer in Concordia, Kan. In its sixth summer, the retreat is a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and Srs. Janet Lander and Ramona Medina are presenters throughout the week. Participants range from beginner to advanced in lace-making. During the first three days, they are joined by Ronna Robertson, founder of the Sunflower Lacers of Kansas. Robertson learned lace-making from a lace-maker who studied in Le Puy, France.

Each day of the retreat explores a different theme: beauty, devotion, creativity, presence, sustainability, service and compassion. The cycle begins in the evening: The lace-makers gather for a song and short presentation centered on how lace-making is related to one of seven themes. The women then turn in for the night, with the theme in their minds. The next day begins with a song or mantra focused on the theme and contemplative silence for morning prayer. The remainder of the day is set aside for lace-making at each person's pace. Instruction and patterns are available for those who need guidance.

In the evening, the sisters ask the lace-makers to show how they incorporated the theme into their lace. After a discussion, the cycle starts again with a new theme for the next day.

The Sisters of St. Joseph were lace-makers in the 17th century in France, according to Lander. The sisters taught the art and skill of lace-making to the women in their care so they could provide for themselves. "They not only put food on their table by the selling of their lace and ribbon," she said. "They also gave this skill to others." These others included women on the margins: poor women in villages, homeless women, orphans and recovering prostitutes in the cities.

Lander and Medina continue the tradition of passing this skill to others and helping lace-makers explore themes that are relevant today.

Caption: St. Joseph Sr. Mary Jo Thummel plans for the next steps in her design that she will work on the next day.

Caption: Retreat leader Sr. Ramona Medina shows another way that the participants can display their final lace products.

Caption: --NCR photos/Eloisa Perez-Lozano

Caption: St. Joseph Sr. Ramona Medina, right, shows a participant how a "mistake" in the pattern actually led to a new pattern. Medina led the retreat with fellow St. Joseph Sr. Janet Lander.

Caption: A retreat participant works her lace into a dove pattern.

Caption: St. Joseph Sr. Susan Trezek takes out the pins from her finished lace butterfly design. Though not a difficult task, it can take as much as a half hour to 45 minutes to remove all the pins.

[Eloisa Perez-Lozano was an NCR Bertelsen intern in the spring and summer of 2013]

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Title Annotation:RELIGIOUS LIFE
Author:Perez-Lozano, Eloisa
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Geographic Code:1U4KS
Date:Sep 27, 2013
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