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SERVANTS OF MARY Groups from around the Diocese make rosaries for those who need them, from local schoolchildren to Catholics worldwide.  Shown are some members of the rosary-maker groups at St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Beaumont/Banning (left) and St. Catherine of Alexandria, Temecula (right). 

By Leslie Ann Brosterhous

Our Lady’s call to pray the Rosary every day is reaching every corner of the world, with help from rosary-making groups, including many in our own Diocese.

In these rosary-making groups, parishioners of all ages make rosaries by hand, sending them all around the U.S. and even throughout the world. The groups are assisted by Our Lady’s Rosary Makers (OLRM), based in Kentucky, which provides materials, resources and support to rosary-making groups throughout the country.

OLRM’s highest-producing chapter in the entire country is within our own Diocese, at St. Thomas the Apostle parish in Riverside. St. Thomas’s group, called Our Lady of Sorrows Rosary Group, made over 35,000 rosaries in 2021. The majority of the rosaries are sent abroad to places as far as Africa, Mexico, India and more.

“Our focus and first destination is the third-world missions, because people there do not have access to [rosaries] – or the sacraments – on a regular basis,” said Our Lady of Sorrows group leader Linda Carter.

“These people really need the rosaries,” she said. “They are in great need of hope and prayer each day.”

The group also sends out many rosaries around the country and locally, usually upon request. They can be sent anywhere from schools and catechism classes to hospitals and funerals.

“Last month, we had a request for 500 rosaries from the VA hospital in Loma Linda from the priest chaplain there,” Carter said. “He said he had the need for many more than that, but didn’t want to trouble us. We sent him 1,700 and he gratefully accepted!”

St. Thomas’ group has about 25 parishioners that meet at the church monthly, ranging from age age 7 to 85.

Carter said the children really enjoy stringing the beads onto the string cords and making it into something beautiful for prayer. “Of course, they don’t get as much done as our adults, but to see them creating more faith for others and themselves is a beautiful thing,” she said.

Carter, who is disabled and homebound, started making rosaries by cutting lengths of string cord, which were picked up by the church. The parish’s group was officially formed on a Mission Sunday in 2006.

The cost to make the rosaries is minimal: each rosary, made with plastic and string, costs about 50 cents. Supplies are easily accessed from OLRM, the national group based in Kentucky, and the parish.

All domestic shipping of the rosaries St. Thomas produces is free due to a generous agreement by Norco company Pro Tech Thermal. Members may donate their own money to help with international shipment costs. Of course, the rosaries are given at no cost to those who receive them.

According to Carter, each packet from OLRM makes 10 rosaries, and it takes about 15 minutes for an experienced rosary-maker to finish, many completing 10 rosaries a day.

The group also makes specialty rosaries for different groups, like rosaries with Holy Spirit medallions for Confirmation students or rosaries for people in prison with round-edge crucifixes that are not sharp or dangerous.

St. Thomas is just one of many other parishes in the Diocese with their own rosary-making group. At St. Catherine of Alexandria, Temecula, Julie Arias leads her monthly adult group of 10 parishioners, who also use rosary kits supplied from OLRM.

The group has been active since 2016 and distributes the rosaries on special days at the parish like the recent Family Fair, free of charge. “I love doing [this ministry] because it is not for myself but to bring Our Lady’s help to others,” said Arias.

Over at St. Peter and Paul in Alta Loma, group leader Cay Kim has been leading her group of 12 in this ministry each month for the past 15 years. The group currently produces about 1,000 rosaries a year.

Kim said there is a little catch to their rosaries, explaining that “to receive one, the person who requests it has to pray for the person who made it for them – and they don’t know who that is!”

But the best thing about making the rosaries, she said, is that they are “helping the Blessed Mother and helping others to get to know her Son.”

Carmen Lopez at St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Beaumont/Banning has headed up the St. Kateri Rosary-Makers Workshop since 2018. “I used to make rosaries all on my own,” she explained, “but I just couldn’t make as many as I wanted. So I said to myself, I need a group!” Her group of 12 parishioners has produced 12,000 rosaries since she started.

One use for these rosaries is that they are given out to children on Sundays, with directions included on how to pray it. “I am just glad I am helping people to pray,” she added, emphasizing the importance of Our Lady’s message to pray the rosary every day.

Said Carter, from St. Thomas, “This isn’t hard. It’s easy to spread Our Lady’s prayer around the world. If you can count to 10, you can make a rosary!”

If you would like to get involved in rosary-making ministry, check to see if a parish near you has a rosary-making group, or if not, consider starting it yourself! Or if you would like to donate financially to a parish rosary-making group, you can contact the parish office for more information.

Leslie Ann Brosterhous is a freelance writer from St. Vincent Ferrer, Menifee.