Editor’s note: In each issue of Sharing & Caring we are going to profile a Precious Blood Sister and her hobbies or activities, beginning with the Sisters living at Salem Heights. We will eventually expand this feature to include Sisters from other areas.
If you happen to see a colorful cross-stitched piece of embroidery hanging in a home, office or church around Dayton or beyond, there’s a chance that you’re viewing Sister Valeria Abele’s handiwork.
For more than 45 years, Sister Valeria has been creating the colorful art depicting sayings, the Trinity and everything in between. She sells the artwork, typically to Sisters and employees. One long-time employee at Salem Heights has about 20 pieces of Sister’s art hanging in her home.
A retired nurse, Sister Valeria learned the embroidery style when she recovering from foot surgery and was confined to a wheelchair for about three months. She heard about the technique and figured that would help her pass the time.
“I was reading about it and I sent for the information and started working on it right away,” she said. “It came naturally.”
In addition to working at a former senior home Precious Blood Sisters operated in Flint, Mich., Sister Valeria has worked in hospitals and ministered in western states. She was previously a teacher and worked at an orphanage the Sisters operated in Dayton.
She continued the cross-stitching after moving to Salem Heights. The work is enjoyable, fulfilling and keeps her fingers nimble.
“I do it every day,” she said. “When I wake up – it can be 11 at night or 2 a.m. – I start stitching.”
The artwork comes in individual kits that include the backing material, a pattern design that is followed by eye and colored floss with which the design is created and a needle. The finished pieces are framed before they are delivered. The artwork can take more than a month to complete, particularly those with intricate patterns or numerous colors.
Her embroidery has become popular and she’s been known to get several orders at once.
“I don’t charge for my labor because I don’t call it labor,” said Sister Valeria. “It gives me pleasure. If the buyers can tell me what they want or need, I try to fill it.”
— Story by Dave Eck