To celebrate Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14, the sisters of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph have partnered with Laundry Love and the Central MN Catholic Worker in St. Joseph to help local low-income individuals and families afford laundry services.
At their reception desks in St. Joseph and at St. Scholastica Convent in St. Cloud, they’ve prepared collection jars and invite visitors to add their coins and dollars. (See below.)
The money is shared at the St. Joseph Laundromat with guests on the first and third Tuesday evenings of a month from 5 to 8 p.m. Guests also receive laundry supplies.
Molly Weyrens, facilitator of the Central MN Catholic Worker, had worked with Laundry Love in Princeton and Zimmerman and knew of another site, at Kipp’s Laundry in St. Cloud. In October, the Catholic Worker organized the service in St. Joseph.
“Having clean clothes is so basic, and we often take it for granted,” Weyrens said. “But if you’re living in a place with no laundry facilities, it can be complicated and expensive. People who have home washers and dryers may have lost touch with the costs. Washing a single load is between $3.50 and $4.50, and then you need more money to dry. Several loads of work clothes, school clothes, baby needs, bedding — it can easily run to $25 a session.
“Laundry Love fills a critical need — and it’s a simple way to offer assistance. Plus we get to know people, and they get to know the Catholic Worker a bit.”
Benedictine Sister Michaela Hedican said,” When I learned about Laundry Love and how we could assist those without financial means to cover laundry costs, I was intrigued and wanted to help out. The sisters here are just as excited — I see them slipping their own coins into the jar every now and then. Visitors have also generously contributed to the Laundry Love jars.”
Laundry Love is meeting needs beyond financial concerns, Weyrens said. She described an appreciative mom whose son interacted with a St. John’s University student who regularly volunteers.
“When I was there,” Sister Michaela said, “the people felt respected and were quietly grateful that Laundry Love had been made available. We were equals helping equals — we all take our turns at needing something.”
Weyrens said up to $150 is needed for each evening, offering two loads per individual and four per family. Instead of liquid detergent, Laundry Love supplies Earth Breeze detergent sheets, a new product that looks like a dryer sheet and cuts down on the environmental impact.
The program isn’t well-known yet, though increasing numbers of guests are coming. To get the word out, Weyrens said they’ve created flyers for Kennedy [school] families, and have translated it into Somali, with Spanish in the works.
“Laundry Love is only twice a month. We chose Tuesdays to begin St. Joseph’s Laundry Love but are open to changing days if it’s not the most convenient time for guests. We need to survey them to find out when is best. With more volunteers, we could consider holding it more often as well,” Weyrens said. “We’re grateful to all those who donate their time and money.”
She emails volunteers — those at St. Benedict’s Monastery, St. John’s Campus Ministry, Central MN Catholic Worker and St. John the Baptist Church in Collegeville — to make sure all nights are covered.
“It’s easy to organize Laundry Love so I encourage churches in other communities to try it,” Weyrens said. “I hope to see Laundry Love sites sprouting up in other towns.”
Sister Michaela said, “Hospitality is a core Benedictine belief. We’re pleased to offer hospitality by playing with the children while their parents attend to the work or just being a friendly presence. Since the laundry is just across the street from the monastery, our support may increase over the summer, when college students will be gone and more children will be playing outdoors, getting dirty. We’ll see how it unfolds.”
What is Laundry Love?
- What: Individuals and families get quarters and supplies to launder clothing and bedding
- Where: St. Joseph Laundromat
- When: From 5 to 8 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays in a month
- For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help the Benedictine Sisters Support Laundry Love
Bring cash for collection jars at reception desks of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph and St. Scholastica Convent in St. Cloud, through Sunday, March 19. Checks, made payable to Central MN Catholic Worker, may be placed in collection jars or mailed to P.O. Box 94, St. Joseph, MN 56374, with Laundry Love in the memo line. To volunteer, sign up at email@example.com.
Top photo: Adobe Stock