By Andres Rivera
RIALTO—Nancy Jamarillo, an 11-year-old parishioner at St. Patrick Parish in Moreno Valley, was excited to finish her first crocheted blanket and present it to her step-father. She stepped forward, surrounded by her new friends, and presented the red blanket with black trim to him as a prayer was said for his continued health.
“I thought it was nice to make something for those who are sick and I wanted to thank God that Raul (stepfather) got healed,” Jamarillo said.
She is the youngest member of a new ministry set out to provide comfort and support.
Comfort Covers Ministry, a ministry based out of Blessed John XXIII Parish, offers hand-made prayer blankets and shawls to those suffering from illness and in hospice care.
“We are here to provide comfort and to let them know that God’s presence is in each blanket,” said Arlene Zamora, member of Comfort Covers Ministry. “This ministry touches a lot of people, from those doing the crocheting to those receiving the blankets.”
The ministry began after Kathy Seidenberg, who suffers from a terminal illness, received her own prayer blanket as a final gift from her mother-in-law in December of 2011. After receiving the blanket, she and her husband, Bob, began thinking about starting the ministry.
Father Rafael Partida, pastor at Blessed John XXIII, was reviewing the parish’s bereavement ministry with Deacon Abel Zamora when the idea of the ministry came to their attention. It seemed to be a natural next step, Fr. Partida said.
“It’s a great thing when our souls recognize the needs of the souls of others,” Fr. Partida said. “We often pray for the sick, but this ministry helps us realize it is real people who are sick.”
The ministry is currently supported by the Seidenbergs and donations. Blessed John XXIII serves as the base, where the ministry holds its monthly meetings and where the prayer blankets, shawls and beanies are blessed. Dcn. Zamora has welcomed the ministry and works closely with participants so that they may be successful in their endeavor.
“He is such a wonderful enthusiast,” Kathy Sieidenberg said. “Without him, this would not have been able to take off.”
The ministry has grown quickly since beginning in May. Several blankets have been distributed to cancer patients and hospice patients in the area. The ministry has a core committee of five members and almost 90 volunteers committed to serving the ministry by crocheting and making deliveries.
“I feel for each blanket I make, it’s one step closer to heaven,” volunteer Lupe Easley said. “The thought of making someone feel good makes me feel good.”
“I pray a lot of rosaries while I make each blanket and beanie,” volunteer Carmen Felix said. “I pray for the families, too, that God will comfort them.”
While sponsored by Blessed John XXIII parish, Seidenberg notes that this ministry is nondenominational. A deacon at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Rialto expressed interest in the ministry early on and the ministry will deliver prayer blankets to anyone who is in need, regardless of religious affiliation.
“They don’t have to know who we are, they just need to know that they are loved and cared for [by us] and that they are loved by God,” volunteer Deborah Stricklend said.
As the ministry continues to grow, the committee is looking for ways to raise funds. Its first fund raiser was a raffle and the ministry is hoping to hold another raffle before the year is out.
For more information on Comfort Covers Ministry or to support the ministry contact Kathy Seidenberg at (909) 820-7557.