October 11, 2013

Quilting helps sustain House of Prayer


ELLENBURG CENTER — Quilting was historically an exercise in thrift by women for centuries in this country.

With times hard once again, Our Lady of the Adirondacks House of Prayer is banking on the homespun-textile art to not only offer a communal and practical activity for its neighbors but to sustain the operation of the ministry.

“We have to be self-sufficient,” said Patricia “Pat” Hanley, director of the House of Prayer. “The only funds we get are from people who come on retreats. We have a few benefactors who give monthly. Of course, it’s not enough. Our major expense is heating fuel.”

The House of Prayer’s Board of Directors and Hanley decided to open the Lost Sheep Quilt and Fabric Shop to defray operating costs. The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Wares for sale include Moda and Jo Morton fabrics by Andover; pre-cuts; yardage; wool; and kits for penny rugs, thread, batting and patterns.

“Mostly, it’s the quality-quilting cotton,” Hanley said. “We’re giving classes. My first class is Nov. 9. We have some people signed up. We’re hoping that will also bring people in to socialize to get people together for a long winter. We’re fairly rural here. It’s good that local people can come instead of traveling 25 miles to Plattsburgh or Malone.”

Hanley has quilted on and off for 30 years.

“One of the other board members is a quilter, too. There are a lot of women who are quilters who are willing to share their talent to give classes and things like that. We’re doing this in addition to our main ministry, which is still retreat. I have two back-to-back retreats (Ignatian Retreats) coming up the end of October,” she said.

Founded in 1972 by the Rev. Joe Trombley, the House of Prayer’s mission is to promote prayer, recollection, retreat and spiritual development in an environment of peace, quiet, love and helpfulness.

“It used to be his family home when he was younger,” Hanley said. “He started the House of Prayer based on the idea of laypeople coming to live in communities to pray and work. It was based on Catherine Doherty’s community in Ontario, which was laypeople coming to live together to live a vocation of prayer and work.”

The House of Prayer is under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg, though it does not receive any diocesan funding.

“Our mission is to evangelize and to offer a place for people to come for solitude and quiet. Anyone can come here. It is a Catholic house,” she said.

Hanley is the only layperson at the moment.

“There was a woman who lived here for 20-some years, and she passed away a couple of years ago. I have been here four and a half years. I went off and lived off in some religious communities for a number of years. I ended up here. I was looking for a lay-community, and someone sent me the information on this one. I came to visit, and I ended up moving here six months later.”

Before leaving Massena in 2000, Hanley was a business owner. 

“It’s like a calling,” she said. “Really, it is a life of poverty. It’s like any religious life like the priesthood or religious women. It takes a lot of discernment and prayer. We’re looking for a few good people to live here.”

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WHAT: The Lost Sheep Quilt and Fabric Shop

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

WHERE: Our Lady of the Adirondacks House of Prayer, 7270 Star Road, Route 190, Ellenburg Center.

CONTACT: Call 594-3253, or email