Feed the hungry, sew for the nuns

Feed the hungry. Shelter the homeless. Sew habits for the nuns.

The idea behind one 2017 National Catholic Sisters Week mini-grant might well have been lifted right off the church’s list of corporal works of mercy.

  • Feed the hungry
  • Give drink to the thirsty
  • Clothe the naked
  • Shelter the homeless
  • Visit those in prison
  • Comfort the sick
  • Bury the dead

They are holy because, in part, they are so grounded: occasions when we can be the hands of Christ here on earth, in our own fumbling, imperfect ways.

When Jackie Finstad, a 39-year-old mom of seven in New Ulm, Minn., learned about the NCSW grants, she sensed an opportunity to serve a beloved religious community: the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus.

The Handmaids are a 10-year-old community of habited 20- and 30-something nuns.

The order’s four-part charism is Marian, diocesan, eucharistic and evangelistic. Simply put, they strive to emulate Mary by being the “mother” of a parish. (And their name is borrowed from Mary’s fiat chronicled in the Gospel of Luke: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." They are an apostolic order, working in the community.

In the process, they've inspired countless Catholics like Jackie. “These women have completely given their lives to Christ, and they are committed to living this publicly and privately,” she said. “Their lives are not rooted in doing, but in being what the Lord calls for them to be. To see a young order that embraces this, practices this and is true to this is a beautiful thing indeed.”

Jackie decided she could help the Handmaids by gathering a group to sew new habits for them. The gathering is slated for Saturday, March 11 to be held at her New Ulm parish, Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. It is funded by an NCSW mini-grant and coordinated through her local Council of Catholic Women.

“Our motto is prayer, study and service," Jackie explained. "We create opportunities for personal faith growth and promote Catholic values through spiritual and corporal works of mercy. CCW is continually seeking ways to help those in our backyard. It’s gratifying to be able to sponsor such an event that supports the Handmaids and brings greater awareness to their lives.”

Jackie herself does not sew, but she recognizes her role in uniting people to serve the sisters who always serve them. “We want to bring people together to not only create habits for the Handmaids, but also to offer family, friends and strangers a day of community at the convent. Perhaps it will be a chance for someone to grow in his or her relationship with the Lord through the time spent with the Handmaids.”




Editor's note

Check back here often for more stories about 2017 NCSW mini-grant recipients! 

About Christina Capecchi

Christina Capecchi is an award-winning journalist from Inver Grove Heights, Minn. She is the author of the nationally syndicated column “Twenty Something,” which appears in more than 50 Catholic newspapers across the country. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, America, The Chicago Tribune, The Star Tribune and The Pioneer Press. She also provides contracted editing and writing services. She holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor’s from Mount Mercy University.