St. Katherine of Siena offering Communion suits and dresses

When Colleen Sharp learned that Holy Martyrs Parish in Oreland was collecting gently worn Holy Communion suits and dresses, she brought the idea to St. Katherine of Siena.

Sharp is director of parish services, and Monsignor Paul Kennedy, the pastor, embraced the initiative.

“It’s another outreach to the community, paying it forward to make things affordable,” Kennedy said.

Last summer, St. Katherine began collecting items for its Communion Closet. The Torresdale parish collected more than 40 suits and dresses of different sizes and styles, along with shoes, veils, ties, belts and socks. A couple of people made monetary donations. Some of the donated clothes were new, while many were used just once.

“Most came in in good shape,” Sharp said.

Sharp said that Julie’s Dry Cleaning, 9201 Frankford Ave., dry cleaned 25 items for free.

The Communion Closet opened for parishioners on Saturday in the church basement.

Chrissy Nicholl was one of the customers. She’s a first-grade teacher at St. Katherine and was looking for a dress for her 8-year-old daughter, Ella, who’ll be making her Communion this spring.

Nicholl still has the dress she made her Communion in at St. Helena in the 1980s, but it is out of style and not preserved.

At stores, dresses range in price from $50 to $300, with suits running from $65 to $100.

While Nicholl believes the focus should be on the sacrament on Communion day, she understands the importance of a pretty dress, even one that will be used only once.

“We’re very fortunate that people are willing to donate dresses to the girls,” she said.

Third-graders at the school will be making their Communion on Saturday, April 27, two days before the feast of St. Katherine of Siena. They’ll also be dressed up the next morning at Sunday Mass.

“They only get used one or two days, so to repurpose them is great,” Sharp said. “Everybody has been very generous. People don’t know what to do with them, and they’re paying it forward for someone else so they don’t have to put the expense out.” ••

The Communion Closet, in the church basement, will be open for people looking for a child’s suit or dress on Sunday, March 3, following the 10 a.m. Mass. Anyone is welcome. To make an appointment or to donate a suit or dress, call the rectory at 215-637-7548.