Meet Cathy Gomez, a recently retired person wondering what God wanted her to do in her next chapter. Little did she know Prayer Squares would become her new passion and ministry to others. Cathy Gomez had been training for what to do in a pandemic, but her retirement from Cerro Gordo Public Health ironically began in the spring before the 2020 pandemic began. Never one to just sit around, Gomez found herself asking God what she should be doing. The answer came in the form of her aunt calling her to tell her about the prayer shawl ministry at Trinity.
Gomez had tried crocheting before when her mother tried to teach her this fine art. “I failed miserably,” she laughed. Over the last few years, though, she brushed up her crochet skills by watching YouTube videos and something simply clicked. Gomez made a few prayer shawls and became pretty adept in making dishcloths. Then her aunt did a little research on Pinterest and sparked the idea of pocket prayer shawls in Gomez’s mind. Her first Pocket Prayer Squares were made and distributed to family members. Not long after her newly-found talent was brought to light, she donated a bag of prayer squares to seniors. She was asked to do 200 of them and recruited her two sisters, Jan and Debbie, to assist with the task. It took the three of them two weeks to finish the 200 crocheted squares and Gomez found a prayer to attach to each of them.
Once again, her talents were discovered…this time by Chaplain Beverly from Mercy One while on a Zoom meeting. A request for a dozen prayer squares to distribute to Covid patients was made, and Gomez once again delivered. By this time, the pandemic was getting worse and the need for prayer squares increased with the number of Covid patients and their families. One week, Gomez made 60. The next week, she made 80. People needed prayer more than ever, and her prayer squares were simply the right thing at the right time.
A sister-in-law who works at Mercy One told Gomez how she witnessed Covid patients holding little prayer squares, not knowing that it was her own relative who was working almost full-time at home making them. “As long as the hospital wants to give them out, I will make them,” Gomez said.
For a humble person like Gomez who says, “It’s only yarn,” she gives her time and talent to create these special prayer squares. “I’m just an implementer,” she insists. For once, she really listened to what God was telling her to do to help others. She jokingly added that when her mom tried to teach her the fine art of crocheting, “I must not have been ready. I was waiting for YouTube.” Each Pocket Prayer Square is lovingly made with a cross crocheted in the center and a prayer attached with a colorful tag. It takes about 45 minutes to complete a prayer square, and Gomez estimates she has made close to 2000 prayer squares so far. Each day, the ministry is growing. In fact, it’s growing so much that Trinity’s Becky Elsbernd asked Gomez to make a video to recruit more volunteers to make the prayer squares.
A friend of a friend happened to see her video and volunteered to help. Gomez drops yarn off with her friend and is pleasantly surprised to have additional assistance. Initially, Gomez supplied all of her own yarn, and since the ministry has grown, people are making not only monetary donations, but also are donating yarn to this amazing ministry. One skein of yarn will yield approximately one dozen Pocket Prayer Squares. Gomez’s Pocket Prayer Squares are not only donated to Mercy One, but they can also be found at Trinity. “It’s been a joy to help people out,” Gomez said. “There have been so many deaths lately.” Trinity’s pastors have her prayer squares ready for those who need them…and extras are also kept at Trinity’s entrance right outside the office for whoever needs a little physical reminder that God is always with us.
“I’ve always got a little prayer square with me,” Gomez added. “If I don’t have the right words for someone, they’re on the prayer square.” For someone who was wondering how she could help during the pandemic, Gomez has found her calling. “It’s been an honor,” she said. “I get to make a little difference.” And that “little difference” is felt with hospital patients and their families, Trinity members, and even people from several different states who happened to meet Gomez while she was in Florida for the winter.
If you’d like to donate yarn or money for the cause, contact Trinity to do so. And if you’d like to learn the fine art of crocheting, check out YouTube videos, take notes, practice, and volunteer to help with Gomez’s Pocket Prayer Square ministry.