Prayer Shawl Program

Prayer Shawl Program

The Hospital of Saint Raphael Prayer Shawl Ministry was founded in 2005. Recipents of shawls and lap blankets have included patients receiving treatment at the Hospital of Saint Raphael, the Father McGiveny Cancer Center and the Sister Anne Virginie Grimes Center. As part of the Women’s Center for Breast Health support program, shawls are routinely given to breast cancer patients by their Patient Navigator.

History of the Prayer Shawl Ministry

The Prayer Shawl Ministry began in 1998 with a group of women who participated in the first Women’s Leadership Institute at Hartford Seminary.  The ministry combined compassionate care for those in need of healing with the love of knitting (and crochetting) to reach out to people who needed comfort. Many blessings are knitted into every shawl. 

Prayers and blessings

Prayers and blessings that knitters use when creating a prayer shawl or lap blanket are as individual as the shawls and blankets themselves.  Prayers may be as simple as three Our Fathers or three Hail Marys.  The prayers, blessings and wishes keep in mind the recipient of the shawl.  Many knitters create a peaceful, prayerful setting when working on the shawl or blanket, lighting candles and playing soothing background music. When the piece is completed, it is offered a final ritual blessing before being sent on its way to a patient. 

Some Q&A’s About Joining the Group 

Do I have to work at the hospital to participate?

No, The Shawl Ministry is open to all who wish to participate. 

When does the Shawl Ministry meet?

Please join us for prayer, knitting and fellowship, on the fourth Tuesday of each month from Noon to 12:30 p.m. in the Chapel of the Seasons located off the lobby of the Father Michael J. McGivney Cancer Center.

Do I have to attend the meetings to participate?

No.  You may create the shawls at home and donate them to the hospital.  

Can I participate in the Prayer Shawl Ministry even if I don’t knit or crochet?    

There are many ways to help the Prayer Shawl Ministry.  The Prayer Shawl Ministry accepts donations of yarn and other knitting supplies.  The Prayer Shawl ministry accepts monetary donations which are used for printing costs and to purchase office supplies, yarns and other knitting supplies.  Tell your family and friends who knit and crochet about us.

What pattern should I use to make a Prayer Shawl?

Different knitting ministry groups and individual shawl makers create shawls in their own ways, therefore there is not just one way to make a prayer shawl.  Shawls may be knitted or crocheted.  The average size of a prayer shawl is 24 inches by 60 inches. 

The original prayer shawl pattern of Knit three, Purl three was developed by Victoria Cole-Galo.  The use of the number three is to symbolize the Trinity in the Christian Faith.  The number three has importance in many other cultures and religions as well, including Chinese, Mayan, Egyptian and Buddhist.

Original Pattern – Directions for Knitting

  • Use 3 skeins of yarn (worsted weight)
  • Use needles size 10.5 through 15
  • Cast on 63 stitches or any multiple of three such as 54, 57, 60
  • First row: Knit 3, Purl 3 to the end of the row
  • Repeated row: Turn and knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches
  • Work about 2 ? skeins in this pattern
  • Fill with love and prayers while you are knitting
  • Use the rest of the yarn for fringe from 3 inches to 9 inches long  

For More Information

The Hospital of Saint Raphael Prayer Shawl Ministry has created a booklet with several different patterns and prayers to use when creating a prayer shawl. To obtain a copy or for more information please contact

Mary Chaulupsky, Chaplain at extension 3305
[email protected]

Lynn Orser RN, MSN, CCRN
extension 3200 (MICU) or
[email protected]


Page last updated on Jul. 15, 2011