Hobbies offer seniors relaxation, fellowship and enjoyment. At a recent meeting, the seniors at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Milwaukee, shared their hobbies with one another with hands-on displays of their interests and talents.

Sue Suit displays some of the many dolls in her Victorian doll collection. Suit and other members of the Blessed Sacrament Parish seniors shared their hobbies or collections during their Sept. 11 meeting at the Milwaukee parish. Kathy Murray, president of the seniors, thought it would be a way for the members to get to know each other better and to find out what they have in common.

“Hobbies help to keep their minds active,” said Murray. “The seniors stay healthier and it keeps them going. Sometimes seniors are under valued, especially the older ones. These hobbies show what seniors do, in addition to helping care for their families.”

The seniors in the group, comprised of men and women ages 55 to 101, brought in stitchery, weaving, crafts and collections.

One of the seniors, Martha Cisler, a parishioner from Greenfield, displayed her loom weaving. Cisler’s hobby dates to the 1970s when she visited the Wisconsin State Fair several times and was intrigued to watch the loom weavers.

For Christmas 1980, Cisler was excited when she received a loom of her own from her husband. For more than 30 years, she has been weaving mug rugs, jackets, scarves, ties and blankets on her loom.

The loom is designed to allow the weaver to create two scarves at a time, and at the seniors’ meeting, Cisler was weaving a grey scarf on it.


For more information about the Blessed Sacrament Seniors, please call the parish office at (414) 649-4720.

She also displayed a rag rug made from the recycled habits of nuns. Cisler received the habits from her sister, a

member of the Racine Dominicans. She has also woven two stoles for deacons in her family.

“You can express yourself and there is such wonderful camaraderie with the weavers,” she said of her longtime hobby. Cisler weaves almost daily or whenever “the spirit hits her,” she said.

She has accumulated a bag full of ribbons from winning weaving competitions at fairs and she is a member of the National Hand Weavers Association. Cisler owns four looms, including a 50-inch loom on which she is weaving an afghan for her granddaughter. And, she’s passed the tradition and interest down to her granddaughter who is learning the craft on a loom given her by her grandmother.

Collecting items is another hobby seniors enjoy, as evidenced by several who showed off their collections.
Jeanne Driscoll, a Blessed Sacrament parishioner, has been collecting salt and pepper shakers since her honeymoon in 1953 in Manitowish Waters. During that visit to the northwoods, Driscoll purchased a set of Albacore Tuna shakers. She didn’t know at the time it would be the beginning of a collection of 75 sets.

She has a set of pelican shakers from a cruise to Aruba, while her favorite is a piano and a bass instrument set from a work friend. She also has a set of John Deere tractor shakers.

Driscoll delights in looking at her collection, which bring back memories of the people she loves and the places she has travelled.

“There is a story behind each one, but I can’t remember all of the stories,” she said, of her collection that she Harry Miller shows off one of his wood carvings that he had collected as a missionary in New Guinea.keeps in her kitchen in a cabinet made by a friend.

Some seniors relish the relaxation they find with their hobbies. Rita Swartwout of Milwaukee has been crocheting for 25 years. She recently made 22 scarves for her grandchildren and family members. She also makes dishcloths, potholders, scarves and afghans.

“Crocheting is really relaxing,” said Swartwout. “While I watch TV, I can crochet without paying attention.  Swartwout shares her talents with members of her parish, St. James, Franklin, through the parish’s prayer shawl group who knit and crochet shawls for nursing home residents and hospital patients. She has passed her love of crocheting on to her granddaughter who is 11 and makes dishcloths.

Sue Suit, a Blessed Sacrament parishioner, has been collecting Victorian dolls for 15 years and her collection of fairy dolls lines the shelves of her dining room.

“I love all of the beauty of the Victorian era,” said Suit. “It was a sad time. As a child, I always loved my dolls.”
One particular doll holds great sentimental value to Suit. A small doll with a blue dress and blond curly hair that plays the “Sound of Music.” It was the last thing that her mother gave to her before she died.

“The dolls bring back a lot of memories,” said Suit. She plans to give the dolls to her two granddaughters so they may carry on with her collection.

The seniors worked their way around to all of the tables visiting and finding common ground in each other’s hobbies.

Martha Cisler weaves a scarf using a loom. (Catholic Herald photos by Peter Fenelon)Other hobbies included bead jewelry and a duck decoy collection.

“We have people with so many talents,” said Murray. “This is such a great way to display their talents and see what the other members do in their spare time. Our seniors are very active and many have enjoyed their hobbies since childhood.”

Some seniors who didn’t bring a hobby along said they are avid readers. The variety of hobbies showcased how the seniors enjoy themselves and how they keep in touch with the many people and places that have been woven into the fabric of their lives.