Quilting Friends make beautiful creations for the Ursuline Sisters

Sally Fitzgerald, left, and Sheila Gravely hold the quilt top they’d just completed Feb. 28.

The pride in Sheila Gravely’s face was apparent as she held her completed quilt top with Sally Fitzgerald on Feb. 28, 2017.

“One of the sisters did the embroidered blocks, Sally scavenged for fabric to put it together, and I sewed it” Gravely said. “Sally is amazing.”

Gravely was making her second trip to the Mount Saint Joseph Conference and Retreat Center as part of the Quilting Friends, who were at the Center from Feb. 26 to March 1, 2017. The quilters take donated fabric and make beautiful quilt tops before they leave, donating these tops for the Ursuline Sisters to quilt later. Some may be hand quilted and included in the monthly Quilt Club drawing, while others are machine quilted and sold. Sister Amelia Stenger started the Quilting Friends when she was director of the Retreat Center, continued it as Development director and now as congregational leader.

Cindy Wilson, left, of Millington, Tenn., and her friend Jean Person, of Fisherville, Tenn., take a break to pose for a picture. It was Wilson’s first trip to Maple Mount.

“I’m so proud,” Gravely said, a resident of Hendersonville, Tenn. “I’m just here to do God’s work. Most of my work is charity work. When I die, Sister Amelia will inherit all by quilt kits,” she said with a smile.

Cindy Wilson attended her first Quilting Friends this year with her friend Jean Person.

“I’ve been hearing about this for years, then Jean finally got me an invitation,” Wilson said. The two friends live in towns outside Memphis, Tenn., although Wilson hasn’t lost her native Newport, R.I., accent.

Wilson has a long-arm quilting machine, and met Person through the quilt shop Person once owned. Person is a piecer, who has been coming to the Mount for 10 years.

“I come each year for the camaraderie and the opportunity to do some charity work for the sisters,” Person said. “I just look at the fabric table and decide what I want to do. We probably have half as much fabric left as we had when we got here Sunday.”

Carin Oliver, of St. Louis, begins piecing a bed runner that will incorporate doilies. “I started 10 minutes ago,” she said on Tuesday, Feb. 28. “Hopefully I’ll have it done before I leave Wednesday.”

Wilson learned to quilt first, and with Person’s help, began to make tops as well. The huge tables of donated fabric are a little overwhelming for Wilson, she said.

“I say to Jean, ‘I’d like to make this. Can you find me three pieces of fabric?’ And she does,” Wilson said.

Brenda Schinzel, of Bartlett, Tenn., works on several projects in Conference Room A at the Retreat Center.

Carin Oliver, of St. Louis, was making a bed runner for a friend of Sister Amelia’s. The woman brought her mother’s doilies and asked for a bed runner to be made with them and other fabric.

“It’s kind of a crazy quilt, create as you go,” Oliver said.

This is her third visit with the Quilting Friends. She comes with her friend Ann Jacobs.

“I love this camaraderie, it’s wonderful,” Oliver said. “We all share the same passion.”

Mary Garcia, of Bartlett, Tenn., looks over the pieces of her Yule Log Cabin quilt top she spread on the floor. “I had a bunch of Christmas scraps I wanted out of my house,” she said.

Brenda Schinzel, of Bartlett, Tenn., stopped for a few days with the Quilting Friends on her way to Michigan to visit her daughter. She’s been coming for at least 10 years.

Ursuline Associate Mary Teder was the lone person quilting on Feb. 28, trying to finish a bright yellow Texas Lone Star quilt for her sister, Sister Amelia Stenger.

“My friend Mary Garcia had come for years, she wanted me to come,” Schinzel said. “I was so nervous the first time, I felt like I made the ugliest quilt ever. I just wanted to do a good job.”

The welcoming atmosphere brings her back every year, Schinzel said.

“I just dive right in. I’ve finished several items since I’ve been here and I’m taking several pieces home,” she said. “Being in the element with like-minded people is so refreshing. They speak my language. It’s so fun.”

On the afternoon of Feb. 28, the quilters displayed their completed pieces in the small dining room at the Motherhouse. Here are some of those photos.


  1. Judy James

    To all of you Quilting Friends whom I have never met—-Thank you for being such a wonderful part of my friend Madge Reising’s life! She spent her last days in one of her favorite places, doing her favorite thing. I now think of her as being in perpetual “nun camp”, working on quilts.

  2. Pat Wathen

    What beautiful piece and purpose of fabric and skills .. great team work .. betting that Angela’s company sewed together too

  3. S.Rosemary Keough

    I looked over the whole set at first, then decided to click on each one–so glad I did! the beauty really shows up when closer!!

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