Saturday, May 13, 2017 - Updated: 2:00 pm
After watching a TV news report about Americans making clothes for children in foreign missions, Sister Elaine Hromulak decided to start her own network of seamstresses.
The member of the School Sisters of St. Francis at Mount Assisi in Bellevue enlisted help from a group of students she taught in Texas in the 1960s. The women, who had maintained their friendship with Sister Elaine since then, agreed to help make sundresses for the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s mission in Chimbote, Peru.
“Last year Sister Elaine contacted us and offered these dresses, and we had two teams that went down and took them, and they were just so warmly, enthusiastically welcomed,” said Dr. Patrick Joyce, diocesan director of stewardship. “So they decided they were going to do it again this year.”
Sister Elaine and her volunteer seamstresses delivered about 150 of the sundresses to the diocesan Pastoral Center in Downtown Pittsburgh April 27.
The dresses are sized, packaged and ready to go with two mission teams going to Chimbote this summer. Each of the 20 team members will carry some of the dresses in their luggage.
Bishop David Zubik is set to commission the mission team members at a May 24 vigil Mass for the feast of the Ascension in the McDowell Auditorium at St. Paul Seminary.
The girls in Chimbote especially liked the dresses last year because they are new instead of used, said Suzan O’Keefe of the diocesan Mission Office. “It’s like a treasure for these kids to get something like this.”
The dresses were so appreciated that some of them were put aside and given as Christmas gifts to the children in Chimbote.
Sister Elaine and her seamstresses have committed to make more clothes for the 2018 mission trips. Anyone interested in donating material or helping make dresses can contact Sister Elaine at 412-715-8575.