Changing the world one rosary at a time in Pontiac

Photo Caption: With a variety of beads to work with, the rosary makers at Pontiac Towers craft between 30 and 40 rosaries each week. Here, Mary Monical (left) and Barb Trainor compare beads to differentiate between

By: Jennifer Willems

PONTIAC — Every Thursday afternoon, a small group of women gathers in the craft room of the Pontiac Towers Apartments to change the world.

They do it one rosary at a time.

“I make them because I think everyone in the world ought to have one,” said Mary Monical, who leads the group. A member of St. Mary’s Parish here, she also belongs to the Legion of Mary.

“If I can’t find one it frustrates me because I try to keep one in every pocket. I like to have one whether I pray the whole thing or not,” she told The Catholic Post, explaining that she finds peace in just holding it.

The group at Pontiac Towers spreads that peace far and wide by sending rosaries wherever they’re needed — 180 to India, where they are used for prayer by Christians, Hindus and Muslims alike; 140 to Immaculate Conception School in Monmouth; 600 to a school in Ohio; and 400 for those in veterans homes throughout the country.

Their rosaries also traveled with the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue, been made available to participants at the Diocesan Summer Institute in Peoria, and offered at the doors of St. Mary’s Church and its missions, St. Joseph’s in Flanagan and St. John’s in Cullom.

“They have gone all over the world, except Antarctica,” Mrs. Monical told The Catholic Post. “Whoever asks for rosaries, we try to fulfill the request.”

THE ROSARIES made by the Pontiac group are cord rosaries, which employ knots instead of chains. The knots can be kind of tricky, so Mrs. Monical ties most of them for the rosary makers.

“I never thought I would learn those knots,” she admitted. “Now I make a lot of them.”

Mrs. Monical learned how to make the rosaries at a May gathering of the Legion of Mary in Chicago. Someone approached them at lunch, gave them the materials and showed them how it was done.

Anne Lyons, who lived in Pontiac at the time, was with her and when they returned she invited Legion members to her apartment to help them perfect their technique.

Mrs. Monical started the group at Pontiac Towers Apartments about four years ago at the suggestion of Mary Shay, who told her that there were people there would like to do it. Today the group includes Shay’s sister,
Barb Trainor, who said she feels a great satisfaction after an afternoon of making rosaries.

“I always say the rosary at funerals and I always have a rosary with me,” said Mrs. Trainor, who is Catholic. “I’ve been praying it for a long time. My mother is 94 and she is still saying the rosary.”

“IT HELPS to express how Jesus wants us to pray,” said Patricia Collette, who has been with the group since the beginning. “It helps people to hold the rosary — something holy — as they pray to the Blessed Virgin and to Jesus.”

Not everyone in the group is Catholic, however. Suzann Faust, who started making rosaries in February, is Baptist.

“If it helps someone accept the Lord, that’s great,” she told The Post, adding that she also enjoys the time they spend together.
“Someone said, ‘You’d better not tell them how much fun we’re having or everyone will want to come and we’ll have to put them in the closet,'” Mrs. Monical said with a chuckle.

“They care about each other and they help. If someone is struggling they help,” she added. “They’re so considerate.”

While they don’t put each other down, there is a fair amount of teasing that goes on. Despite the frivolity, the group manages to make between 30 and 40 rosaries every week.

WHILE THEY are free to make rosaries of any color, group members also make special rosaries when the need arises. Currently they are fulfilling a request for Pro-Life Rosaries, which have a combination of aqua, red, black, green and white or clear beads.

Mrs. Monical said she also hopes to make more World Mission Rosaries, which were developed by Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the El Paso native whose cause for beatification and canonization is being studied at the Vatican.

Rosaries made for those who are serving in the military generally are required to be all black or black and brown, she said.
All of the rosaries they make are blessed before they are sent, so Mrs. Monical accepts no money for them.

“You can’t sell blessed rosaries — they are sacramentals,” she explained. “If someone wants to give us a donation for the beads, that’s another story.”

SHE ADMITTED that members of the Legion of Mary expressed some concern about how she would pay for supplies, but the group at Pontiac Towers has never been unable to make rosaries.

“If she wants it, she’ll take care of it,” Mrs. Monical said, referring to the Blessed Mother.

Rosary making also takes place at coffee and doughnuts every other month at St. Mary’s Parish. In addition, Mrs. Monical has helped the parish children make rosaries as part of Christmas fun days and Vacation Bible School.

She has found that rosaries can be discussion starters on planes and trains.

Mrs. Monical quoted St. Francis of Assisi, who said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary use words.”

“With this, we don’t have to use words,” she said of the rosary. “We’re just sitting there. If they ask, we tell them.”

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