Rosaries for Rangers

There is a little project going on to get rosaries to the troops. Here is the story (with my emphasis):

Ranger rosaries in short supply for U.S. soldiers
By George P. Matysek Jr.

The Catholic Review

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (The Catholic Review) – What Pat Evans calls the “most powerful weapon” American servicemen could ever carry is failing to make its way into the hands of many military men and women in Iraq.

The “weapon” is a spiritual one designed to bring peace to a troubled region and protection to soldiers – the rosary.

Ms. Evans knows there aren’t enough of the time-honored Catholic prayer beads being shipped because she has coordinated a rosary- making guild at St. Mary in Annapolis for nearly four years that has produced 70,000 military-style “ranger rosaries” – an impressive number, but nowhere near what military chaplains tell her is needed.

“From the letters I receive from military chaplains, I could probably send a thousand rosaries (every week),” said Ms. Evans, noting that it costs about $1 to make and ship each rosary.

“We only have a budget of $20,000, so we just can’t do it,” she said. “We need more people to help us.”

There are 25 St. Mary’s parishioners who make and send about 400 rosaries every week – mostly to chaplains in Iraq, but also to chaplains in Afghanistan, stateside training bases, the Navy fleet and military hospitals.

Some parishioners of the Church of the Resurrection in Ellicott City, Md., and St. John the Evangelist in Columbia, Md., have also helped produce the popular rosaries – as have some Catholics across the country, but Ms. Evans would like to see more Maryland parishes step up.

Father John Kingsbury, C.Ss.R., St. Mary’s pastor, has proposed expanding the ministry beyond his parish to include other faith communities surrounding Annapolis or the entire eastern vicariate. He is looking for a parishioner to coordinate the expanded ministry.

Ranger rosaries were the idea of Frank V. Ristaino, a St. Mary parishioner and sergeant in the Maryland Army National Guard. During training as a young army recruit in 1981, Sgt. Ristaino used parachute cord and beads in land navigation drills. Every 72 paces, he pulled one of the beads down his cord to indicate that he had walked 100 meters. It was during one of those drills when it struck him that the cord and beads would be perfect for a rosary.

Made of olive green parachute cord, black plastic beads and a black plastic crucifix, the ranger rosaries include no metal parts that would reflect light or make rattling sounds in the field.

St. Mary’s parishioners also make similar sailor rosaries with gray parachute cords and royal blue beads. They pray for the men and women who will hold the beads, and the rosaries are blessed by the Redemptorist priests of the parish before they are shipped.

“I think some people are unhappy with the war and sometimes they forget the warrior,” said Ms. Evans. “I can’t tell you how many letters I receive from chaplains who say their men don’t feel forgotten when they have one of our rosaries in their hands.”

Some letters Ms. Evans has received tell how soldiers hang the rosaries in their humvees and tents. Others recount how servicemen use them in prayer in the field or while recovering from wounds in the hospital.

“I know firsthand how much the ranger rosary is loved by the American soldier,” wrote Chaplain Christian T. Connelly in one of Ms. Evans’ treasured letters. “Once they get it in their hands, it is a powerful reminder of their Catholic faith and the love that our Lord and his Blessed Mother had for each of us no matter where harm’s way may take us.”

A U.S. Army chaplain in Baghdad said he uses the sturdy beads to pray as many as 50 mysteries of the rosary a day when he goes on a mission with his troops.

“Do you know that we are one of only two units in Iraq that has never been attacked?” he wrote. “Please continue to pray and Our Lady will continue to protect us.”

For more information, call 410-280-1448 or visit Send donations to “St. Mary’s Ranger Rosary,” St. Mary Advancement Office, 109 Duke of Gloucester St., Annapolis, MD 21401.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mark says:

    This is slightly ironic, Father! Here in Scotland Rangers is a historically Protestant football team, which has been at loggerhead with it’s “Auld Firm” rival, Celtic–historically Catholic.

  2. PS
    A prayer book from 1944. Please feel free to e-mail on to members of the armed forces.

  3. Jeffrey Stuart says:

    From someone who has been over there, I don’t think it possible to express how much something like this means to those on the receiving end. If you want to do something for the effort, this is certainly a noble one indeed.

    Vivat Iesus,

  4. Dan Hunter says:

    Father Zuhlsdorf,
    When I was an altar boy,I served mass for one Father Climas,a Lithuanian priest who had been arrested and thrown in a Soviet Gulag prison in the 1940’s
    Whilst there he and other prisoners made rosary beads out of human hair and balled up bread crumbs.
    Father Climas was caught doing this and he was scalped by the persuasion bureau of the camp.
    I always wondered why he he had a huge combover.It was to hide the scar at the crown of his head.Great priest, God rest his soul.
    God bless you

  5. Guy Power says:

    Mark: …Here in Scotland Rangers is a historically Protestant football team

    The RANGER refered to here is the US Army Airborne Ranger — somewhat equivalent to your SAS or SBS …. though in a pinch I think SAS/SBS would clean our clocks.

    Guy Power
    RANGER class 14-80 (and long since retired)

  6. Seamas O Dalaigh says:

    A worthy cause indeed. I remember as a boy the same thing happening during the Vietnam War.

    James Daly

  7. Kevin says:

    Sounds like a very worthy cause. I plan to donate and request a Ranger Rosary for my own use. I have found it challenging to find a “durable” rosary. Most of the rosary’s available at Catholic bookstores, etc., are too frail and delicate to keep in one’s pocket and pull out on a regular basis.

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