Palettes of Prayer

Creative pursuits of all types allow us to express thoughts and feelings that can sometimes be difficult to put into words. Color, form, texture or sound can take us to a place beyond language as we continually seek transcendent experiences that elevate, challenge and inspire.

Many Sisters of the Precious Blood make art and crafts, and while the forms of their creations vary widely — carving, painting, quilting, singing and many more — they share in common a means of communion with others, and a way to reflect the beauty of God.

Sister Rae Marie Ratermann learned to crochet as a student at Precious Blood High School in Dayton, the Congregation’s former aspirancy school also known as Fatima Hall. She delights in creating items that brighten a space, and she gives nearly everything she makes — baby blankets, Christmas tree skirts, doll dresses, tablecloths — to family and friends. This December, rows of crochet angel ornaments line her bookcases, waiting to be given as Christmas gifts to staff members at Salem Heights, the Congregation’s central house in Dayton.

The skills Sister Rae Marie acquired in crochet continue to evolve and grow to include a host of beautiful and interesting items: quilts; cut paper folded into elaborate stars; triangles of fabric folded and sewn to make 3D flowers. Counted cross stitch produces all kinds of charming scenes, such as angels singing over a slumbering Baby Jesus or St. Nick with a sack of presents. Sister Rae Marie uses gathered circles of fabric, called yo-yos, to create Christmas tree ornaments or small, fabric Christmas trees. She learned to make the delicate and colorful thread balls called Temari, made and used for a variety of purposes in Japan for over 1,000 years. “Doodling” patterns, in the artform known as Zentangle, becomes a meditative practice — and creates a beautiful piece of original artwork.

“I just enjoy doing things with my hands — I’ll try any craft at least once. And I like to give away the things I make,” she said.

Story and photos by Mary Knapke

Top, crochet wall hanging; second, Christmas ornaments; third, a Zentangle; bottom, crochet angel ornaments.

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