This priest is building the first fully-automated scapular-making machine. Here’s why.
Since his ordination in 2011, Fr. James Schultz has had a strong devotion to Our Lady, in particular through the Brown Scapular, and he always knew that Mary would form a big part of his priestly ministry.
Growing up in a devout Catholic family with 12 siblings, to Fr. Schultz the Brown Scapular was just a part of being a devout Catholic, something that many people did. It was a part of your devotion to Our Blessed Mother, and it was a comfort from God that the devout soul will receive the graces necessary for heaven.
But after beginning his ministry as a priest, he soon learned that there were many more who had never heard of this devotion or didn’t know much about it.
Out of the Attic
How could such a beautiful example of Our Lady’s love for us not be more well-known? Why was this amazing part of the Church’s Tradition being kept locked up in the attic when it should be taken out for the whole world to see? Surely anyone who knew about the promises attached to the Scapular would want one for themselves?
Over time, Fr. Schultz knew that there must be something that he could do to spread the Brown Scapular, something more significant.
He just didn’t know what that was.
In 2019, he was appointed pastor of St. Mary’s Parish and Shrine in Oswego, NY in the diocese of Syracuse. At his new parish, there was a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. He took this as a sign and knew that he had to start promoting the Brown Scapular more directly.
At first Fr. Schultz started making scapulars by hand and promoting scapular-making workshops in his parish and in surrounding parishes. He preached and told others about the importance of the Brown Scapular, encouraging everyone to make this devotion a part of their spiritual life.
Over time this grew into an apostolate, with the help of family members and friends, including a brother who is also a priest in New Hampshire, Fr. Schultz began to see the spread of this devotion as crucial for our time.
Our Lady promised that everyone who dies wearing the Brown Scapular will not experience the fires of hell. That’s not because the scapular is magic. Rather, it’s because it’s a sacramental that disposes us to grace. Any Christian who sincerely desires to love God will be given the grace to follow him through the Brown Scapular.
The Brown Scapular is a sign of devotion to Our Lady. It’s a daily reminder to pray to Mary and live for her. As Catholics, we know that the fastest way to Jesus is through his mother. The Brown Scapular is a daily encouragement in our spiritual life and brings us closer every day to God.
The Demand was Great
Fr. Schultz soon ran into a problem. The demand for scapulars was greater than his ability to make them. Even with volunteers helping, he couldn’t keep up with the demand. This was a good problem, of course, but one that still needed an answer.
Whenever he talked to people about the Brown Scapular, they wanted one. Who wouldn’t be inspired by such a beautiful promise from Our Lady? And in order to encourage devotion, he wanted to make high-quality scapulars, the kind that would inspire people to want to wear them.
But he couldn’t make them fast enough to keep up.
So, he came up with an idea.
A crazy idea.
Build a machine that could make scapulars.
A lot of scapulars.
Where did this idea come from?
After he formed the Scapular Apostolate, Fr. Schultz did some research on other times when scapulars were in high demand. One story that stood out was about a group of cloistered nuns who made scapulars for soldiers during WWII.
For soldiers going to war under the threat of possible death, the demand for the Brown Scapular was great, so a group of Carmelites from Brooklyn, NY fabricated a machine to make as many as possible to send to the soldiers.
Fr. Schultz reached out to the order, but he wasn’t able to locate the machine that was used or knowledge about how it was built. Still, it gave him an idea.
What if he built his own machine?
If Mary wants everyone to wear the Brown Scapular, why not make one for everyone?
The story of St. Francis and San Damiano has been an inspiration to the Scapular Apostolate. St. Francis heard the cross of San Damiano tell him to “rebuild my church” so St. Francis took the words literally and started rebuilding the church building he was in, stone by stone.
Our Lord’s plan for St. Francis was much greater than just repairing an individual building, but Francis was rewarded by his simple fidelity to God’s inspiration. He heard God’s voice telling him to rebuild his church, so he took the words literally. Francis’ immediate response to God was the foundation. God built on that foundation to reform the Church and save countless souls.
The Scapular Apostolate is humbly trying to follow in St. Francis’ footsteps. Our Lady said at Fatima that she wants everyone to wear the Brown Scapular, so they are going to do what it takes to make that happen…and leave the details up to God.
By building a machine to make as many scapulars as possible. Once that’s done, then they will use their time and energy to preach and teach about the Brown Scapular. The demand is already present – in the words of Our Lady. So the Scapular Apostolate has dedicated itself to building a machine to create scapulars so that they can give one to everyone in the world.
To do this Fr. Schultz found an engineer in Finland, Stefan Hamminga, who is currently working on the prototype for the machine. The Scapular Apostolate is still raising funds for the final build, but once it is complete, they will have a machine that can make 144,000 scapulars a week!
Do as she says
In the end, the goal of the Scapular Apostolate is simple. Our Lady wants it, so they are going to do everything to make it happen. By creating enough Brown Scapulars for everyone and spreading the word about this powerful devotion, the apostolate is confident that God will provide a way forward.
Right now things are still up in the air. Fr. Schultz is a diocesan priest who is trying to create an apostolate from scratch. He knows that there is a desire for the Brown Scapular and the promises that Mary has assured the faithful who wear the scapular.
So he is going to do everything he can to place a scapular around every shoulder, with a loving trust in God that he will somehow make it possible.
A garment of grace
The Brown Scapular is the perfect devotion for the Christian soul in today’s world, and the Scapular Apostolate believes it may be the most important work in the Church today. The sincere soul seeking God often feels alone in such a hostile world as ours and needs the protection of Our Lady and the Brown Scapular.
And with God’s grace, they’re doing everything they can to provide it
Editor’s note: To keep up with the work of the Scapular Apostolate, please visit https://scapularap.com/.
Image: St. Mary’s Shrine in Oswego, NY, courtesy of the author