To answer Christ’s call to be merciful by providing new clothing to children in the poorest countries in the world.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” --Matthew 25: 35-40
Parishioners of the Holy Mothers Collaborative in Hanover, MA formed the Mercy Sews ministry in 2016 in response to Pope Francis’ call to action in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. As a Catholic ministry, we welcome people of all faiths who would like to join us in helping those who have so little.
We reached out to Central African Republic (CAR), a war-torn country that’s also one of the poorest on earth. Why CAR? Each summer for more than a dozen years, Bishop Dennis Kofu Agbenyadzi, whose diocese is in Berberati, CAR, visits our parish to meet with his close friend, Father Chris Hickey. We wanted to build on this relationship and undertake works of mercy for Bishop Dennis’ people. His first mission in Africa was to the Pygmy population, and he has a special fondness for them, so we chose to provide clothing to the Pygmy communities first.
Our motto is "DRESSed in His Love."
You need not sew to contribute!
--Sew simple sleeveless dresses for girls*
--Sew simple shorts for boys*
--Cut simple polar fleece receiving blankets for newborns*
--Knit and crochet Duduza dolls*
--Assemble dress kits for others to sew
--Buy tee shirts
--Donate fabric and money
--Buy sewing machines for native women
*Patterns available on this website under "Patterns/Instructions."
When the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020, Mercy Sews temporarily shifted its focus to sew masks to help those on the front lines fighting the virus locally. Go to “Patterns/Instructions” and click on "Pandemic Response" to learn more about the hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, food banks, and correctional facilities we provided masks to.
--To focus on the dignity and respect of girls and boys and women and men in Central African Republic, and to show them they are loved.
--To reach out to those in most need of mercy.
--To allow members of our ministry to do missionary work without leaving their homes.
"Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help."
--Pope Francis announces the Jubilee Year of Mercy (March 13, 2013)
--Pope Francis opens the first Door of Mercy in Bangui, Central African Republic (November 29, 2015)
--Pope Francis opens the Door of Mercy at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome (December 8, 2015)
--Parishioners of the Holy Mothers Collaborative in Hanover, MA form the Mercy Sews Ministry (February 14, 2016)
--Mercy Sews sends its first annual shipment of dresses and tee shirts to Central African Republic (September 2016)
In 2016, Mercy Sews started with twenty-six members. Since then, our membership has grown to more than one hundred and sixty members. Most people are from two dozen towns in Massachusetts, but we also have members in California, New Jersey, Ohio, and Florida.
Since we started, we have sewed and shipped more than 4,000 dresses, and sent more than 4,000 tee shirts, 1,500 blankets, 300 children's shorts, 2,000 rosary pouches, and tens of thousands of rosaries. In addition, through donation money, we have arranged for fourteen manually operated sewing machines to be sent from Nigeria to the local men and women of the diocese.
Each year, Bishop Dennis sends us photos of the pygmy people receiving the "gifts" that Mercy Sews has donated. You can check out these photos by clicking here.
In the Spirit of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, as we gather in community to share our prayer, our stories, the works of our hearts and hands, we pray for God’s blessing on our ministry.
A blessing to our minds—to be free to enter into this work of mercy,
A blessing to our hands—to be the source of creating clothing of beauty and love,
A blessing on the children of Africa, who will receive the fruits of our prayers and sewing,
A blessing on Bishop Dennis, who serves as the spiritual thread connecting our two communities.
May these simple dresses give the girls who receive them a sense of their worth as children of God and heirs to heaven.
We join our prayers and our dressmaking with women all over the earth in the common effort to bring comfort and dignity, color and joy to those who have so little.
Jesus said our heavenly Father desires mercy, not sacrifice.
Lord, make us an instrument of your mercy.
We ask this in His name.
Eighty-seven-year old Estelle from Riverside, California, surrounded by the more than 100 fleece blankets she has made for the Pygmy babies.
Since answering the "call to mercy" in 2016, Eileen from Norfolk, MA has single-handedly sewn more than 1,200 dresses for the Pygmy girls.
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