Gigantic rosary brings parish together

Anne Marie Amacher
Members of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf gather to pray the rosary May 5. They are holding a gigantic wood and rope rosary created by Eagle Scout Paul Willett.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

BETTENDORF — “The first mystery is how to untangle the rosary,” one of the members of the Knights of Columbus laughed May 5 at St. John Vianney Parish. Volunteers carefully untangled the gigantic, homemade rosary made of wood and rope by Eagle Scout Paul Willett. The rosary had been stored in a large box. The Knights decided they needed to find a better way to store the rosary when not in use.

A new tradition has begun this year in  May in which parish groups take turns leading the rosary after the 8:30 a.m. Sunday Mass in the activity center. On May 5, chairs were set up in the shape of the rosary, and each person held a section of the handmade rosary. Ideally, 60 people participate.

Pat Monahan, who chairs the parish’s vocations ministry, said the Knights recite the rosary the first Friday of each month. They wanted to expand participation. The vocations committee decided that offering a parish-wide rosary, using the handmade one between Sunday Masses, “is a great opportunity to have solidarity.” May, the month of Mary, seemed like a good opportunity to gather the parish together.


The May 5 rosary leaders — Knights and the Men’s Fellowship — prayed the joyful mysteries. On May 12 (Mother’s Day), the liturgical commissions will lead the luminous mysteries. The women’s circles will lead the sorrowful mysteries on May 19 and other ministries will lead the glorious mysteries on May 26.

Father Tony Herold, a senior priest serving the parish, held the hand-carved crucifix of the large rosary and prayed the Apostles’ Creed carved on the backside to begin the prayers. Parishioners from young children to senior citizens took turns reciting their part — either a Hail Mary or the start of a new decade. Each bead that starts a decade features one of the mysteries carved into it.

“This was beautiful,” said parishioner Shirley Solymossy. “That we could gather to devote time to Mary and pray together as a group.” She sees a need for more devotional activities such as this one. Emeric Solymossy of the Men’s Fellowship, was encouraged by the attendance, especially families with children in attendance. Initially, the Knights thought about doing a men’s rosary but then someone asked, “What about the wives?,” Emeric Solymossy said. Someone else asked, “What about children?” So the Knights decided to invite everyone to pray the rosary.

Altogether, 57 people participated in recitation of the rosary on May 5. Afterwards, the Knights and Men’s Fellowship members carefully placed the rosary into a wooden box and took it to the gathering space. There the box, left open, sits in front of a painting of Mary that parishioner Mona Wolbers created.

“Nothing is more powerful than saying the rosary together,” Emeric Solymossy said.

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