Capri Connection: Prayers woven into blankets can make a difference

Ann Hall
Ladies of Capri Christian Church gather on Thursday each week to knit and crochet prayer shawls. This was taken when the ladies were starting to come back for season bringing with them all the prayer shawls they made up north over the summer. This particular group of shawls numbered 145.

“The proof is in the pudding,” or so it is often said. In the case of Capri Christian Church’s Prayer Shawl Ministry, that proverb has certainly held true for so many.

Dave Rizzo was given a Capri Christian Church prayer shawl. He recently had surgery on his leg that doctors thought would lead to amputation. Rizzo is healing and credits his prayer shawl and the multitudes of prayers being sent his way that have saved his leg.

Recipients of a shawl have overwhelmingly reported feeling its power and experiencing healing and diminishing pain when their shawl is adorned.

Barbara Cowden, member of Capri Christian Church and a resident of the Isles of Capri, started the prayer shawl ministry four years ago. Approximately 25 ladies make up the group who meet once a week on Thursdays to knit or crochet shawls in shapes of squares, rectangles or triangles. As each shawl is made, all of the ladies present offer their prayers to be woven into the shawl for the recipient. At the completion of each shawl, one of the church pastors comes in to give the shawl a final blessing and prayer before it is packaged.

“We have given out over a thousand to date,” said Cowden. In addition, if anyone wants to join the ministry and does not know how to knit or crochet, they will be taught how to do so.

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Prayer shawls are stored in an always open hall closet so that anyone knowing of someone in need of strong and focused prayer for any reason can pick up a shawl, sign the tag indicating the recipient and dropping it in a special box to afford Cowden a record of the distribution.

Stories abound of the personal benefits and differences a prayer shawl has made in the lives of so many who have received one as a gift from someone who cares about them. Prayer has shown to be a powerful comfort and support as evidenced by the feedback offered.


On one occasion, while Danny Laster was experiencing the most intense pain he said he had ever had after receiving his new kidney, the kidney donor’s wife placed a Capri Christian Church prayer shawl sent to him over his abdomen.

“I can’t believe it, but my pain immediately subsided to tolerable,” said Laster. “I am keeping my prayer shawl on my bed at all times.”

In addition, the Prayer Warriors of the church, another ministry of about 100 members led by Kris Kugler pledged to pray for Laster until he was well. Both the donor and the recipient have since fully recovered and are leading healthy and normal lives.

Dave Rizzo, an Isles of Capri resident experienced heart failure in January. His good friend John Mueller, on Jan. 22 posted this update to the community on the Coconuttele, Capri’s informal email network: “FYI Capri resident Dave Rizzo underwent emergency quadruple coronary bypass last Wednesday at Naples Community Hospital! I visited Dave today and while very uncomfortable is progressing nicely according to his nurse.”

Joanne Podany, another Capri resident and friend wrote: “Just wanted everyone to know that Dave Rizzo just came through quadruple surgery and is doing pretty good. He had to go back in for more surgery for a blood clot. We are all hoping he will be able to come home sometime this weekend … he is the guy that gives you hot dogs and popcorn at the bingo games. We are hoping he will be able to help out again there soon. He is such a nice guy; we wish him a good and quick recovery.”

Although Rizzo’s heart surgery went well, in the aftermath, he lost circulation in his left leg. He underwent vein transplants to try and restore the blood flow to his lower leg. The latter surgery prompted a blood clot. In the several months that followed, it was thought by his doctors that his leg would have to be amputated.

“I was on a roller coaster ride each day,” said Rizzo. When the prosthetic tech came in to ask me to pick out a new leg,” I was devastated.

Members of Capri Christian Church decided that it was imperative that Rizzo needed focused prayers immediately. A prayer shawl was delivered to him at the hospital and his name was added to the Prayer Warriors list for continuous and focused prayer for healing and restoration.

“To our church and entire Mr. Roger’s neighborhood (terms of endearment Rizzo gave to Capri), I’m on the mend and so grateful for everyone's thoughts and prayers. I am so touched to have a beautiful healing shawl. It’s on my leg right now. I have not taken my prayer blanket off since I got it! I feel everyone’s good vibes. Thanks to everyone. I can’t wait to be back home. Thank you again,” wrote Rizzo to the Coconuttele.

Doctors in a hospital in Miami told Rizzo that they planned to remove belly fat and a large flap of skin from Rizzo’s abdomen to try and repair the 33 percent of the tissue lost in his calf (six inch hole) once healing had started to look promising. This is a six hour surgery at best. Plans have now changed as the leg is progressing so rapidly. The intensive surgery has now been replaced with a less invasive one that is hoped to take much less time and requires a skin graft from shavings from the thigh on the leg above the wound.

“The blanket worked; they are confident they can save my leg. Shawl will remain on my leg every day until then. I'm so happy. Thank everyone,” wrote Rizzo.

Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala recently had knee replacement surgery and was a recipient of a prayer shawl.

“I just love this prayer shawl! I never take it off and I know the prayers inside have helped me heal faster and reduced the pain. I’m walking easily with a walker and without a walker unsupervised! Not two weeks yet, but I’m surprising everyone. Please tell the congregation how much I appreciate their prayers. Thank you so much for the prayer shawl,” wrote Fiala.

One of the most recent and most astounding messages came this week when Roxie Chowen described her experience with the prayer shawl she received from Capri Christian Church through a family member.

“Thank you so very much for the prayer shawl. I love the color and can feel God’s love through it! I have it on now.”

Chowen had just been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig Disease). Her doctors at the Mayo Clinic said that it was progressing rapidly and said to her in so many words, “get your bucket list together as you may have only two more years.”)

Chowen’s daughter-in-law followed up one day later after Roxie returned to the Mayo Clinic again for her treatment plan with this good news: “So the miraculous prayer chain is in action … doctors are now reconsidering the severity of Roxie’s ALS and feel medication may be effective enough to slow the progression, with no fear of it being fatal anytime soon! God is great! Thank you for your prayers, including her on the prayer warriors list, and for her shawl! What an amazing sudden change in her diagnosis!”

The Prayer Warriors program which was begun on Feb. 7, 2013 works in tandem with the Prayer Shawl Ministry. The program, developed and coordinated by Kris Kugler has now grown to 97 warriors who make time in their day to pray specifically for anyone that Kugler sends to them by email asking for prayer support.

Kugler calls the program, ASK. “I took this from Matthew 7:7-8 where the scriptures read: Ask and you shall be given; Seek and you will find; Knock and the door will be opened,” said Kugler, a resident of Marco Island and member of Capri Christian Church.

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