When a quilting project involves participants from all across the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, unpredictability plays a pivotal role along with fabric and thread.
“We really didn’t know what we’d get,” quilter Catherine Hymel said.
Hymel and Maureen Naquin were charged by 50th anniversary planning committee member Pam Folse with combining diverse submissions from the various parishes into a unified quilt in honor of the diocese’s jubilee year.
The result: an approximately 10-1/2-foot-by 8-1/2-foot quilt with 80 squares, including 68 representing the various parishes.
“When we first laid it out, it was like a collage,” said Hymel, who offered a solution for keeping the squares from bleeding together.
By adding sashing in between the squares, the quilters were able to give each parish submission its own frame and emphasis, she explained. At the center of the quilt is the diocese’s 50th anniversary logo. The corner squares contain crosses.
“The designs submitted by the churches from throughout the diocese are indicative of the parishes and cultures from where they come,” Folse said.
Added Naquin, “The squares that came in were absolutely beautiful. It was amazing to see the talent from throughout the diocese that came forth in these squares.”
Some parishes painted their squares, Folse said. Some used expensive embroidery. Others employed photographic transfers or fabric appliqués.
Hymel noted how the square from the Catholic Deaf Center uses a signing nail-pierced hand to convey the theme, “No greater love.”
The square from Our Lady of Pompeii features Mary and Joseph and uses multiple techniques including intricate stitching for the rosary beads in Mary’s hands, Naquin said.
Holy Ghost Church in Hammond used an appliqué that resembles stained glass, Hymel added.
The quilt, for now, is at Hymel’s church, Our Lady of Peace in Vacherie, where it was assembled, but soon it will move to Baton Rouge.
Bishop Robert W. Muench plans to receive the quilt in a ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Catholic Life Center on South Acadian Thruway. There it will remain on display in the main lobby until moved to the River Center for the 50th anniversary Mass on Nov. 6.
Folse described quilting as an appropriate way to celebrate the anniversary, because it links to a cultural activity of the region while allowing the participating parishes to demonstrate their individual qualities.
“I remember my grandmother, my mom and my aunt working on a quilt at the house,” Folse said. “For me to experience it again as an adult was really reminiscent of something I had seen long ago.”
But now as then Folse’s experience with the quilting was as an observer, because she doesn’t sew.
That’s why she turned to Naquin and Hymel, who found spiritual reasons for embracing the project.
“I don’t know why I was asked,” Hymel said. “You think about it, ?Oh my what a project,’ but then God is asking you to do it, so you can’t say no.”
Hymel, 63, and Naquin, 69, brought years of experience to the project, but none working on a quilt so large.
“Nothing was done without prayer,” Naquin said. “You known when you have a project of this type you ask for divine help, and we did this on a daily basis.”