||Syte Reitz made this Rosary with sterling silver, and Swarovski crystal and pearls as a wedding gift for her son, Chris, and his wife, Rebecca. (Contributed photo)
Why do I make Rosaries, and what does the Rosary mean to me?
The short answer is that I have discovered that the Rosary is one of the most powerful ways that we can tap into the power of God, and I look for ways to share this discovery with others.
That might sound somewhat exaggerated and melodramatic, but those who are aware that historical battles have been won through the power of the Rosary (such as Battle of Lepanto) might not be surprised that our own personal battles can be won through the power of the rosary as well.
As a cradle Catholic, I was taught to pray the Rosary. But my passion for the Rosary, my desire to make Rosaries, and my commitment to promoting prayer of the Rosary began much later, while I was a homeschooling mother.
Our Holy Family Catholic homeschoolers were being taught to make simple string Rosaries at St. Michael Parish in Dane many years ago, when my children, older than most in the group, took an interest, instead, in an old man sitting in the corner, quietly making chain Rosaries for the missions with a pair of pliers.
My 12-year-old son became so interested that he resolved to learn how to make chain Rosaries, and he eventually made a beautiful blue crystal chain Rosary for me, a copy of which I still carry with me every day.
Experience in hospital
Soon after that, my son was struck by juvenile diabetes and was hospitalized, in very serious condition. Since I stayed with him, the doctors asked me to wake him every hour all night long, to make sure that it was possible to wake him.
I lay on a cot next to him all night, but I doubt whether I got one minute of sleep. I prayed the Rosary in my pocket, which he had made for me, over and over again, and did not stop all night.
In the morning, the resident doctor told me that we were finally out of the woods, but that my son had come within a hair’s breadth of going in to a coma.
Back then, with less technology, the job of keeping oneself alive daily with juvenile diabetes by balancing insulin injections, food, and exercise was a challenging one, and my 12-year-old son no longer had time to make Rosaries.
I’m not sure why, because I don’t generally think in these terms, but it dawned on me that Satan probably wanted to stop a young man from making Rosaries.
My reaction was to get mad, resolving quietly to myself that Satan was not going to stop us; if my son cannot make Rosaries, I will make them instead.
So, I got my son to teach me, and I started making chain Rosaries myself.
At first, I made mission Rosaries to send overseas, and then I realized that Madison also had a need for Rosaries, so I made Rosaries for anyone who was interested, free of charge.
Today I still provide free Rosaries for my parish (Cathedral Parish in Madison), which welcomes new parishioners with a gift package containing — among other things — a Rosary.
Importance of prayer
But there is more to the story. First of all, the anxiety and terror a parent naturally feels in the face of something like juvenile diabetes (JD) was gradually dispelled.
Our son has not had one single emergency room visit (common for most JD patients) now in 14 years, and is healthier and happier than most people are.
I now realize that, when we walk with God, ordeals are not terrifying; they become easy. What should be a living hell, instead becomes a joy.
Prayer of the Rosary, especially before the Blessed Sacrament at Adoration, has become an essential part of my spiritual life, and of my survival of the challenges of this life. In any crisis, prayer before the Blessed Sacrament brings resolution.
Rosary for the bishop
Our family’s involvement with the Rosary also took some other interesting turns. Five years after I started making Rosaries, I attempted to round up 31 women from the Madison Catholic Woman’s Club to pray the Rosary for our Madison Bishop Robert C. Morlino, who was being attacked unfairly in the local media.
I wanted to organize one Rosary to be prayed for Bishop Morlino each day of the month. My son Tom, then an 18-year-old college student with an interest in computers, suggested that we put the Rosary for the Bishop program up online to facilitate membership. He built a website for me: Rosary for the Bishop, www.rosaryforthebishop.org
Pretty soon, we added another great brave outspoken bishop to the website, who was in need of prayer. This was Bishop Nickless from Sioux City, Iowa. We became aware of Bishop R. Walker Nickless through our other son Chris, who was building and managing the local Catholic radio station in Sioux City.
Spreads throughout world
It was not long before Tom decided to add all the U.S. bishops and our pope to the Rosary for the Bishop website. From there on, the Rosary for the Bishop website soon took on a life of its own.
Out of the blue, we got a request from the editor of the United Kingdom (UK) Catholic Herald to put all the UK bishops up on the website, and Rosary for the Bishop was featured in the UK Catholic Herald.
We also got requests from people in South Africa, Australia, South America, and various places in Europe. Today, the Rosary for the Bishop website organizes global prayer of the Rosary for bishops, with email reminders available, and with maps and statistics, for over 1,580 members from 26 countries, 258 dioceses, and 1,001 parishes, who have prayed over 297,000 Rosaries for 453 bishops globally since then.
Bishop Morlino now has over 500 Rosaries prayed for him each month and has had over 45,000 Rosaries prayed for him through this program since it began in 2005.
It’s even become a challenge to keep the website updated with all the changes in bishop appointments, and we are currently looking for volunteer help.
My son, who was forced to quit making chain Rosaries at age 12, is now a professional web developer who has facilitated global prayer of the Rosary in a way I never imagined possible.
Rosary in Lithuanian
Over the years, I became more and more aware of the power of the web. With my Lithuanian roots, I had learned my prayers as a child in Lithuanian and still pray the Rosary in Lithuanian.
When I searched for Lithuanian prayers on the web, I was amazed to find that very few were available, and no audio was available at all.
The 50-year occupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union following World War II had almost eradicated religious material from print, and this shortage was reflected online.
So I asked my son Chris, then operations manager of Catholic Relevant Radio in Madison, to record some Lithuanian Rosary prayers, and I posted those on my website at www.SyteReitz.com
Later, as this old lady became more “wired,” and as I got requests from people through the website, I recorded more Lithuanian prayers myself and posted those as well.
I also collected Rosary resources from the web in English for my website. I combined instructions on how to pray the Rosary with sacred art and Bible quotes for each of the mysteries, creating a detailed instruction manual.
A staff member from our parish suggested that I should turn that into a downloadable pdf for mobile devices, so guess what, my favorite web developer Tom was pressed into service again!
The free How to Pray the Rosary Mobile PDF is one of the most downloaded pages at www.sytereitz.com/2013/10/how-to-pray-the-rosary-mobile-pdf/
Syte Reitz is a member of the Cathedral Parish in Madison.