Building relationships

Twice last year, about a dozen men from St. David’s Anglican in Prince Albert (Diocese of Saskatchewan) gathered to assemble wooden crosses. One of the men cut the cross pieces before they met. Then the group, aged all the way from 13 years to a man in his eighties, met to sand, assemble, stain and string the cross necklaces. The Rev. Norbert Haukenfrers, Rector of St. David’s, said they used the “Harley Davidson method of Assembly—one artisan from start to finish on each cross.”

Fashioning wooden crosses for inmates
Fashioning wooden crosses for inmates

Two meetings in St. David’s basement—over snacks of sausage, cheese, crackers, chips and pop–produced 700 crosses. Then one of the group’s elders, Tony, took home the remnants and finished another 150. When Haukenfrers thanked him, Tony replied, “I can’t do much anymore but I can still sit, with my coffee, and fiddle with sandpaper and glue…it’s not much.”

These men are part of the Anglican presence at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary—even though they may never enter its doors. Kathleen Stewart, layreader at St. David’s, is a regular minister at “The Pen” and these crosses are a gift to the men with whom she works. Stewart says, “I take a few in with me weekly and if there is a need or one is requested I pass them on.”

Reflecting on the cross-making, what really stands out to Haukenfrers is that “Great conversation was had about sports and life…and relationships are building among the men of the congregation.” Those relationships spill over into goodwill towards the men across town at the prison. Haukenfrers remembers one cross maker saying, “It’s good to do something for those boys, some of them never had anyone do anything for them.”

And who can say? Perhaps the thoughts and prayers go both ways. When presenting the crosses, Stewart asks that they “pray for themselves, and others in the institution, as well as offer thanksgiving for those who made the crosses and the many that pray for them.”

Sharon Dewey Hetke
Council of the North Communications

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