Saturday 8 October 2022

Ora et Labora. Craft as sacred, prayerful practice

Our thriving Northern Chapter was recently delighted to welcome a new member: Kelly Ellis-Radahd, who brings great enthusiasm and sewing skill to the group. She has her own blog, and wrote this beautiful account of her discovery of the Guild and the most recent meeting she attended, at the York Oratory. This is cross-posted from her blog This Garden of Grace, with her kind permission.

Just beyond the shadow of York Minster, nestled amongst the trees and surrounding buildings in a sunny spot, sits the church of St Wilfred, the York Oratory, a beautiful place of worship with intricate carvings, magnificent stained glass windows and the most exquisite interior and sanctuary. On 24th of October a group of wonderful individuals dedicated to supporting priests those whocelebrate the Traditional Liturgy of the Catholic Church, gathered in the upper rooms of the magnificent York Oratory. Overlooking the beautiful walled garden, the heavenly scent of incense rose from the sanctuary below, and, surrounded with tea and coffee, these wonderful individuals sat, at pretty farmhouse tables on quirky upholstered chairs busy at work. It was here in the great tradition of Ora et labora, they mended and sewn a number of vestments and stoles for priests who say the traditional Latin Mass.

Having in the past couple of years come back to my faith, discovering the Traditional Liturgy of the Catholic Church has been deeply nourishing for my own spiritual journey with Our Lord. The Traditional Liturgy weaves a rich tapestry of scripture, tradition and faith, which all glorify God, a feast for the mind, body and soul.

Naturally as I do, I began searching for a way in which I could support the Traditional Liturgy. The idea of studying Theology at one time felt like the place to start, but alas I am no academic. However the Lord did gift me with a creative mind and hard working hands, and so when I read about the work of the Guild of St Clare it felt like all these pieces of me, of my life experience, of my faith fell into place beautifully. It was most certainly one of those moments you feel you can feel the Lords hand guiding you in your life so clearly.

The Guild of St Clare was founded in Oxford in 2009. Its purpose is to repair and make the liturgical vestments necessary for the celebration of the Traditional Liturgy of the Catholic Church, to pass on the skills necessary for this and to promote domestic sewing. The Guild is affiliated with the Latin Mass Society and its spiritual patron is St Clare of Assisi, who like many female religious over the centuries, made liturgical vestments.


Over the years the guild has grown exponentially and the Latin Mass Society now offer an annual sponsorship for the Royal School of Needlework Certificate Course to individuals wanting to deepen their skills and knowledge in hand embroidery. Skills which can ultimately benefit the Guild and its members. A few months ago I had the great privilege of meeting the Guild’s founder Lucy Shaw as part of an online interview for this sponsorship. Although it wasn’t a successful application at this time, Lucy was kind enough to invite me to be part of a new chapter in the Guild of St Clare, this chapter would serve the North of England, and as a Manchester Native it felt like a great opportunity to get involved in this important work and be part of an exciting new phase in the Guild’s growth.

And so, back reflecting on that sunny autumn morning, to the sunlit room overlooking the walled garden of St Wilfred’s church, our third meeting of the Northern Chapter (my second) which although still in its infancy is thriving! This September we welcomed many new members of varying ages, male and female to our most recent meeting and we have managed to secure vestments and ecclesiastical items for mending and rehoming.

We are continuing to nurture and forge new relationships with communities and priests who celebrate the Traditional Liturgy in the North and warmly welcome anyone whom may be interested in joining any of the Guild of St Clare meetings, or indeed any priests who need our services to get in touch with us. Let us together strive to serve the Traditional Liturgy of the Catholic Church for thebenefit of all faithful, that they may come to experience its beauty, and be rewarded with its eternal fruits.

“Love God, Serve God, Everything is in that” St Clare of Assisi

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