Grace Muller will freely admit that she’s never been very artistically inclined. In fact she’s been known to say that “I can’t even draw a straight line with a ruler.”
She has, however been very devoted to the Blessed Mother, so when she heard about a rosary-making group that forming at her parish, St. Dominic’s in Shortsville, she decided to give it a try.
That was eight years ago, and Muller has been making rosaries ever since.
“I was amazed I could make the rosaries,” Muller said. “It’s the only thing I’ve ever been able to make in my entire life. It must be my calling.”
Muller is one of seven current members of the parish’s rosary-making group. The members meet at the parish center once a month, bringing the rosaries they’ve made at home during the past month. The rosaries are spread out on a table, grouped according to type and color, and the members pick up new supplies to use for the coming month’s rosaries.
Muller said she orders the rosary-making supplies from Our Lady’s Rosary Makers, which is a nonprofit organization based in Kentucky. The organization will sell supplies to rosary-making groups for a reduced price if the rosaries made from those supplies are sent to missionaries. Rosaries made from mission beads cannot be sold.
Our Lady’s Rosary Makers also publishes a bimonthly bulletin listing the names and contact information for missionaries around the world, as well as the number of rosaries each missionary is requesting. Muller said when the bulletin comes out, she studies it carefully before deciding where to send each batch of rosaries.
The group sent out 900 rosaries in April, Muller said. Sometimes they never hear from the recipients of the rosaries, but many times they receive letters thanking them and letting them know where and how the rosaries were put to use. In April, the group received a letter from an official in the recruitment department of the Marine Corps. In the letter, the official wrote about the difficult training new recruits go through, which often makes them re-examine themselves as well as their beliefs and values. Rosaries can provide a great comfort for them during this time, and he often sees recruits carrying their rosaries with them, he said.
St. Dominic’s parishioner John Long usually makes rosaries specifically for people in the military. These rosaries are completely black, with not only black beads, but also black cords and crosses as well. Long said he started making these military rosaries when the United States entered into conflict with Iraq more than a year ago because the soldiers need them. He works on his rosaries while watching television in the evening, he said, because it helps keep him awake.
Fellow parishioner Helen Englert has been a member of the group for four years, and said on average she makes about 100 rosaries a month. Her favorite time to work on the rosaries is also in the evenings, when she’s watching “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.”
Muller made 5,000 rosaries the first month she was in the group, but her output has slowed a bit since then. Her goal is to eventually make 1 million rosaries, although she said she stopped keeping track of how many she made after that first month.
Children in the parish’s religious-education programs have sometimes made rosaries for the group to send to the missions, and Muller stressed that the group is open to anyone interested. Anyone can make rosaries, she said, “as long as you’ve got two hands so you can string them.”