Diocesan News

Rosary makers inspire faith over decades

Story by S.L. Hansen 

ROSELAND (SNR) – Earlier this summer, teens from Sacred Heart Parish in Roseland and Assumption Parish just north of town (Juniata) went on mission trips to Gallup, N.M. and Cortez, Colo., armed with hand-made rosaries.

Rosary-making is a tradition in this community, stretching back well more than 20 years. Not only do the parishes supply rosaries for their teen missionaries, they are given to visiting missionary priests, family, friends – anybody who needs inspiration.

Making rosaries has been an integral part of CCD classes at Roseland, with kids as young as kindergarten age threading carefully-counted plastic beads onto sturdy cord until the rosaries are ready to be knotted by an adult.

“If you don’t [knot them correctly] then it can actually fall apart, explained parishioner Ashley Trausch, who recently took over the CCD program with her sister-in-law.

Previously, Monica Mousel was the volunteer CCD director for more than three decades. She is also Roseland’s primary rosary maker. Now at age 73, she’s been making rosaries for most of those years.

“I wanted something different to do, just because I like to do something for other people,” she explained.

She had heard of a lady in York who was making cord and bead rosaries.

“I thought this way I could give them to other people,” recalled Mrs. Mousel.

She telephoned the woman for more information and learned how to make the rosaries and where to get the materials.

“There are people in Hastings who do the same thing,” Mousel said. “It’s really caught on.”

The rosary itself is a very meaningful part of Mousel’s life.

“It’s a very important prayer to me,” she said.

She prays the rosary at least once a day, sometimes more often. Her habit was formed years ago, when she felt Mary calling her to sit down and spend time with her in prayer.

“I feel the rosary draws me closer to Mary and Jesus,” she said. “I just like to sit in church and look at Mary and pray. She listens.”

At some point, Mousel, who is a lifelong Assumption parishioner, decided to teach her CCD students to make rosaries, too. Investing in the supplies herself, she expanded beyond her usual black, brown or white rosaries and purchased bright colors and pearlized beads that the students found more appealing.

Nowadays, all but the youngest Catholic kids in Roseland are expert rosary-makers. Trausch said the kids use free time and recess to make rosaries and have their pastor, Father Jonathan Haschke, bless them.

“It’s actually kind of funny to watch them. because it also is a math learning lesson too,” Trausch said. “Ten beads, spacer, mystery bead, spacer, et cetera, until you get 50 beads and five mystery beads.”

During one week of summer CCD, Trausch said, “Twenty young students made close to 200 rosaries” for the teens to take on their mission trips. That’s an impressive number in one short week, but some of the parish families also make rosaries year round, including Trausch’s mother and other family members.

Mousel tops them all. She’s been making rosaries so long, she can complete one in under 10 minutes.

“I made 17 last evening,” she said mildly.

Mousel doesn’t keep track of how many she makes. “At one point I tried to keep track, but I thought there were more important things to do,” she said.

Trausch estimated that between Mousel and others who make rosaries at home and the CCD kids, Roseland area Catholics have made more than a million rosaries over the years.

Demurring, Mousel said that she’d put the number in the thousands. Hundreds of thousands, to be sure.

Right now, she’s making rosaries for some people who are going to Haiti in the middle of October. She’ll keep stringing and knotting until she fills a box for the missionaries, knowing that each one will be given to a person in need.

“I’m not much for ‘talking the talk’ but at least I can do this,” Mousel said. 

“I’m glad I am able to touch some people… I feel good about that,” she said. “It’s my way of getting involved in the world and helping make a difference.

Trausch agreed. “We may be a small parish, but I feel like we can truly impact so many lives by doing what we are doing through not only making rosaries but, also sharing them throughout the world.”

She said that she has been inspired herself by the love, patience and passion that Monica has brought to rosary making within the local Catholic community.

“Frankly, I want to be part of that, which is why I decided to take over CCD, so I can impact just as many lives as Monica and my mom have, by donating hand-made rosaries.”

Related news: Masses resumed in renovated Sacred Heart Church

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