In 2016, St. Joseph celebrated 59 infant and child Baptisms. Another 25 children have been Baptized so far in our parish this year. At each one, the infant or child was clothed in a gown created by Carolyn Horton and hand-embroidered by the volunteers of the Baptismal Gown Ministry.
Carolyn has been embroidering for years and, in 2011, Kay Martin placed the responsibility of the Baptismal Gown Ministry into her capable hands. When asked about her favorite part of the ministry, Carolyn replied, "I love to embroider and it's something I could do and help little babies." She donates the white fabric used for the gowns, cuts out each one with pinking shears, and transfers a design onto the front. There are currently about 17 designs in use, but Carolyn's favorite patterns feature doves. When the gowns are ready, Carolyn sends them out for embroidery, rotating the designs for each embroiderer.
Embroidery is a way to decorate the gowns, using different colors of thread and stitching techniques, to make each one special. The Baptismal gown embroiderers are free to stitch the designs however they choose. Pastel threads are common, but they like to get colorful too with touches of red where appropriate and turquoise and aquas are often used for water. The most common stitches used are back and chain stitches.
These Baptismal gowns are an essential part of the sacrament. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tell us, "a sacramental celebration is woven from signs and symbols." (1145). In the Parent Handbook for the Sacrament of Baptism, Terri Huff (who organizes our Baptismal Prep Classes and Baptisms) writes, "the white garment is placed on the newly Baptized to symbolize that they are clothed in Christ. The garment is white to symbolize purity and absence of sin. St. Paul tells us that 'all of you who have been Baptized into Christ have put on Christ' (Galatians 3:27). The garment symbolizes this in a profound way."
Thank you Carolyn, Colleen Schneckenburger, Pat Glapa, Shirley Klinkefus, Pat Oreskovich, Kitty Migan, Mary Ann Rodrigues, and all the embroiderers who have helped over the years for creating beautiful Baptismal gowns. Your gift of craftsmanship is a blessing for our parish.