By Dee Goerge
The scene was familiar — a dozen women sewing quilts, pillows, wall hangings and aprons. But the venue was unusual. For the weekend of March 4 to 6, the rectory at Christ the King Church in Browerville was the site of the first CTK Sewing and Crafting Retreat.
Cheryl Biegler, a mother of Christ the King School students, recognized the rectory’s potential while attending a CTK board of education Christmas party. The rectory is currently not being lived in; the pastor, Father Matthew Crane, lives in the rectory at St. Joseph Church in Bertha, another of his three parishes.
“It was such a big, beautiful house with a homey kind of atmosphere,” Biegler said. After mentioning it to Stephanie Heinze, a member of St. Joseph in Bertha and a CTK parent who shares Biegler’s passion for sewing and crafting, the two brainstormed plans for the retreat within a couple of hours. With the blessing of Father Crane, it was set up as a school fundraiser.
“We wanted it to be a time to gather and be productive to get something done,” Heinze said. “The bonus was to develop friendships and build community.”
Over the weekend, women from all three parishes (Browerville, Bertha and St. Joseph in Clarissa) worked on projects and shared stories and fellowship. Many attended first Saturday Mass, specially arranged by Father Crane.
Ruth Freyholtz, a member of St. Joseph in Bertha, appreciated the Mass and spiritual aspect of the crafting retreat. The young mother was one of four women who stayed overnight at the rectory. She brought her youngest child, Anna, 5 months old, with her at the encouragement of her husband who took care of the couple’s other five children. Though she started working on a baby quilt and learned how to use a serger (specialized sewing machine), sewing wasn’t her main goal.
“I was hoping I would get to talk with grownups,” she said, and she wasn’t disappointed. “The food was also great and it was nice not to have to cook it.”
Biegler and Heinze donated and prepared the food for the meals so that all the retreat income ($430) went to the school.
CTK member Mary Schultz appreciated the fundraising aspect and the fact that the retreat was close to her home. She was delighted when two of her daughters said they wanted to join her. Over the weekend the three sewed two large Bargello quilt tops.
While Schultz was pleased to complete a big project, it was only one piece of the weekend.
“It was great bonding with the girls,” she said. “It was such a peaceful place, and it was kind of spiritual because we were all on the same page. To see younger mothers that way, I was really impressed.”
Besides building community between the three parishes and raising money for the school, a few of the women used Biegler’s serger to hem flannel fabric to make receiving blankets, which will be donated to a pregnancy center.
Also as a bonus, designer Connie Zinter gave free demonstrations and patterns to sew a bunny from an old sweater and quilt a spring table runner.
Heinze and Biegler said compliments have come through the grapevine about their “fun” fundraiser. Women are asking when there will be another retreat.
“We hope to do it again in the fall when the gardens are done and before Advent,” Biegler said.