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Seamstress serves Arlington cathedral, one stitch at a time

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On a recent Wednesday, Marie Flores’ nearly 90-year-old hands threaded a needle with blue thread and set to work on a nautical quilt meant for a little boy who loves boats.


Flores, a parishioner of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More since the early 1950s, learned to sew from her mother, who raised 12 children and sewed all their clothes. Flores passed on the skill to her children and grandchildren.


Flores was asked by the deacons in Bishop John R. Keating’s first ordination class in 1984 to make a vestment for the bishop. They provided her a kit and Flores got to work. The vestment, gold with a lamb on the back, is still used today. She’ll tap the person next to her when she sees it and tells them it was her handiwork. “It’s a privilege to make the vestment,” she said. “When you finish a project you are proud of doing it.”


Her sewing skills are often utilized by the priests.


“She’s a wonderful lady,” said Father Robert J. Rippy, rector. “She does sewing for us priests, such as if there’s a rip in our cassocks or suits and she’s more than happy to do that for us.”


Before the church confessionals had doors, Flores sewed the curtains that provided privacy for the penitent and confessor. She sewed tablecloths for the tables where the chrism oils are placed during the annual Chrism Mass.


A member of the parish before the current church was built, Flores said her husband was among the men who went door to door soliciting donations to build the church. Her three children attended the school.


She is humble about her work. “I don’t think I do anything more than what other people would do,” she said.


Along with her role as chairwoman of the parish Arts and Crafts Committee, she is a member of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. She joined in 1958 when it was named Sodality of Our Lady/Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Flores also helps provide food for funerals, including a particular dessert dubbed the funeral cake.


She stays at the cathedral because it feels like home. “It’s where my friends are,” she said. 


Jackie Minnick, a fellow parishioner, has known Flores since 1986. She’s assisted with several of the events, including the St. Patrick’s Day dinner dance and the spaghetti dinners. “I think the cathedral is Flores’ life,” said Minnick. “That’s what keeps her going. She’s devoted her whole life to the church and she’s like a matriarch.” 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018