St. Martha Catholic Church officially celebrated the 50th anniversary of Fr. Chester Borski’s priesthood on December 21, with a Mass of Thanksgiving. He was ordained 50 years earlier, in 1967, at the Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome. Happily for us, Fr. Borski has shepherded his flock at St. Martha for the past 17 years.
When word got out there were special events being planned this year, one of Martha’s Quilters’ members, our “fabric whisperer” Noreen, spearheaded an ambitious quilt project for the anniversary celebration. Yes … Martha’s Quilters would make Father Borski a quilt. This project took seven months to complete. The other members of our prayer quilt ministry carried our workload while this project was being created. This insured all the needs for quilts for sick parishioners were filled.
It was decided that a “friendship quilt” was most appropriate, one with signatures of his friends and parishioners. A team of people began collecting the signatures and well-wishes on small rectangles of fabric. One of our members, Angela, and parishioner, Lourdes, were a tremendous help in collecting signatures. Fr. TJ helped with some of the clergy. Noreen even wrote Pope Francis a very nice letter to see if he would sign a block. Alas, a signed block was not meant to be. However, the Pope did send a letter and lovely rosary.
One of my personal favorite signature blocks reads: “We never got to go bear hunting.”
After the multitude of signature blocks were gathered, Noreen sewed colorful pieces of fabric around each signature blocks. She then stitched the blocks together into a quilt top. The quilt has approximately 300 blocks which represent well-wishes from individuals, families and church groups, such as ACTS. We estimate this quilt represents one thousand people who have been touched by Fr. Borski.
The design of the quilt block and layout was something Noreen hadn’t seen before. While on a trip to the Holy Land earlier this year, she found a tile design on the floor of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. No kidding … this is the only other place Noreen had ever seen this design she would turn into a quilt block. Yes … the Holy Spirit had a hand in the design of the quilt. During the quilt top construction, Noreen also added prayers and scripture verses.
After all the blocks were stitched together, 12 members of Martha’s Quilters worked to finish the quilt. They basted the quilt, Sally and Clara machine-quilted it, and Sally added borders. I had the privilege of machine-sewing the binding. Then the binding was sewn down by many hands, the pocket was embroidered, and finally, the hanging sleeve was made and sewn on. The quilt was displayed in the church narthex during the Fr. Borski’s Mass of Thanksgiving.
On December 13, the week before his Mass of Thanksgiving, our little group of quilters presented the anniversary quilt to Fr. Borski in the parish office. Little did we know the heavenly significance of this date. Fr. Borski told us it was his mother, Lucy’s birthday, and also her patron saint, St. Lucy’s feast day. He told us that his mother was a quilter late-in-life and one of her projects was to make each of her children a quilt. Since Father was a priest, he urged his mother to first make all his other many siblings their quilts. His mother died before she could make that last quilt. Fr. Borski never got his quilt … that is … until his late mother’s birthday this year. I feel certain his mother was smiling down on the group assembled that day.