Jean Forsterling has served her fellow parishioners and community as a member of the St. Ann’s Mission Society of Holy Name of Jesus parish in Sheboygan for 58 years.
“I didn’t believe it was that long,” Forsterling said. “I thought the person who wrote that in the bulletin had made a mistake!”
For the last seven years, Forsterling’s service included presidency of the St. Ann’s Mission/Quilting Society. After helping patch together literally hundreds of quilts, Forsterling would like to pass on her duties as president of the Quilting Society, although she isn’t ready to put away her needle.
“I’ll still be quilting after I retire the presidency. But the presidency is just too much for me,” the 85-year old Forsterling said.
Forsterling joined the Quilting Society in 2004 for a variety of reasons.
The Quilting Society meets
“I am a sewer,” she said. “And I just wanted to be with the ladies and get out. It’s nice to get together every Monday. We have a little lunch after while, dessert and coffee.”
Quilts, companionship and coffee also result in a fundraiser for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School, the Catholic grade school associated with Holy Name, St. Dominic and St. Clement parishes in Sheboygan.
“Every August we have a quilt sale in the back of church,” Forsterling said. “We have queen size, double, single and baby size as well as toddler size and lap robes.”
Last year Forsterling said the Quilting Society had about 35 quilts available at their sale, and made around $845. In addition, the Quilting Society auctions off a quilt during the holiday season.
According to Sr. Betty Uchytil, a School Sister of Notre Dame and principal at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the efforts of the Quilting Society are much appreciated.
“The quilts and the ladies are most charming,” Uchytil said. “Jean was most gracious in explaining all they do and how they are happy to contribute the money to the school.”
Uchytil said the money is used to aid in tuition for deserving families.
“We are always grateful for their inspiring mission,” she said.
Also grateful are the numerous charitable organizations gifted by the Quilting Society with one or more of their quilts.
“Last year we made gifts of around 20 quilts to charitable organizations in the city,” Forsterling said.
The responses to the quilts are always positive.
“We only get good news,” Forsterling said. “They all love them. They’re nice and warm and they’re washable.”
As president of the eight-member group, Forsterling’s duties are many and varied.
“I have to make sure there is something to do every Monday,” she said.
Other duties include procuring batting and bottom sheets for the quilts, arranging for the squares to be cut and fitted into an appropriate design, putting up the framing for the quilts, overseeing the placement of the top quilted sheet, tying decorative knots in the middle of each patch and making sure the quilts are finished in a polished manner. She is also responsible for the society’s treasury.
“In a way we have our own little assembly line. We each sort of have our own job,” Forsterling said.
And now, she said, it’s time to make her job a little less strenuous. According to Lollie Fox, one of the patchwork quilters, Forsterling’s contributions are much appreciated. “She’s held us together,” Fox said, not unlike the intricate stitches that hold the quilts together.
Even though she plans on passing along her presidential duties, Forsterling said she’ll still be involved with the Quilting Society.
“I’ll still be around. I’ll still be making baby quilts,” she said, noting those are not as heavy as the larger quilts and are easier for her to handle. “It’s time, but I just love it.”