Sisters sell crafts, build community at annual event

houston_crafts1After a year of knitting, crocheting, making ornaments, painting and stitching the sisters were ready for the Dominican Sisters annual Arts and Crafts Sale, held the first weekend in November. The sale featured handcrafts, needlework, holiday decorations, paintings, baked goods, homemade jellies and jams.

Many come early each year for the Dominican Marmalade. There are six trees on our grounds that are descendants of the orange tree at Santa Sabina, said to have been brought to Rome by St. Dominic. These Seville oranges are not sweet to eat but make delicious marmalade. Though the marmalade is available all year long, Sister Marie Bordages and several volunteers put in extra hours in the summer and fall making enough marmalade for the sale.

houston_crafts2While most of the items are made by the sisters, their family members and friends contribute as well. Three years ago, when Sister Lydia Delgado was visiting her family in Harlingen, she shared with them about our annual sale. She explained that the proceeds from this sale went to benefit the Villa, our retirement home for the sisters. Shortly after her visit, her cousin, Bertha de los Santos, sent her a message saying her grandchildren wanted to send a contribution for the sale. They wanted to help the retired sisters. Bertha was already teaching them how to bead and suggested they could donate some of the necklaces and bracelets they had made. That year, the children, Jonathan, Hannah, and twins Aaron and Sarah, now ages 10, 9, and 8, started sending beads for the sale and continue to do so. When they run low on the beads, they remind their grandmother they have allowance money so she can purchase more beads for them. Their parents, Andrew and Celina Nelson, are quite proud of them.

houston_crafts3Another contributor is a friend of Sister Marygrace (Ginger) Peters. Kathy Woollard and Ginger became close friends when Ginger was teaching at Aquinas in St. Louis. Kathy and several of her friends contribute needlepoint pieces for the sale in Ginger’s memory. In an email, she wrote, “Why don’t I just write a check?” (After all, it would be easier and less time-consuming.) She explained, “Ultimately, I do it all in Ginger’s memory, to honor her deep love of Dominican life and of her congregation.” She went on to explain that she learned in conversations with Ginger that connections were important to our future, and, as Ginger put it, “bring folks into the Dominican fold.”

The sale is not only about the selling of our goods and adding to the retirement fund. It is also about making connections. Sisters, family members, friends, volunteers and staff contribute time and energy to prepare for the sale and staff the tables as well as shop. While most come to shop, many also come to visit. Sister Paula Enderle provides space for people to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and perhaps some baked goods while they visit. Though tired at the end of the weekend, it can be said that the sale is one way we “bring folks into the Dominican fold.”

Article and photos submitted by Dominican Sisters of Houston