Holme Circle’s Kathy Perpetua will give handmade rosaries to anyone she thinks could really use them.
A few years ago, she and her helpers made enough for every police officer and firefighter in Philadelphia. She’s made camouflage rosaries for members of the military. She also gives them to the elderly, handicapped and others.
Perpetua also sells the rosaries at area craft shows. Proceeds go to the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22 widows’ fund. Her husband Tony is a retired fireman.
At a recent craft show at Nazareth Academy High School, she met Sister Mary Anthony, a theology teacher, moderator of the school’s community service corps and co-moderator of the life club.
The nun invited Perpetua to visit the school to teach the students how to make rosaries, and she quickly accepted.
“It’s my ministry,” Perpetua said.
Perpetua has worked with members of the rosary and life clubs twice and plans another visit this week.
On her most recent visit to the Torresdale school, she gave rosaries to three cafeteria workers and a dozen soldiers who were there for a military club event.
There’s an art to making the rosaries, which are made from sturdy, rather expensive deep-sea fishing twine.
Perpetua has been doing it for 20 years, and told the girls that they shouldn’t become frustrated if they use too much twine and have a jumbo-sized rosary on their first try.
“I could have jumped rope with my first rosary,” she joked.
Perpetua gave a hands-on demonstration of how to make rosaries. She also distributed a double-sided page of printed instructions and how-to pictures.
The students were joined by Helen Kennedy, a theology teacher and co-moderator of the life club, and Cathy Armstrong, a guidance department secretary and rosary club moderator.
The girls made the rosary knots by wrapping the twine around their fingers, beginning under the cuticle, with Perpetua telling them to not wrap it too tightly and to use proper spacing. She also showed them how to make a crucifix and used a candle to singe the ends to keep them from fraying.
Making the rosaries is all about repetition, she told the teenagers.
Junior Sara Aykit, of Holmesburg, was perhaps the quickest learner.
“I’m going to make them for family and friends,” she said.
Sara enjoys the hands-on process and the fact that rosaries are tangible. She said individuals holding the rosaries can see their prayers as they’re being said. She’s happy to be joining Perpetua in distributing the rosaries far and wide.
“A lot of people have forgotten about rosaries and prayer,” she said.
Perpetua brought twine that was dyed pink and blue, representing baby girls and boys.
Nazareth’s life club watches videos, invites speakers to meetings, attends the annual March for Life in Washington, prays outside an abortion clinic and collects money in giant baby bottles for a crisis pregnancy center in Bristol that provides free ultrasounds and baby formula.
Both school clubs use rosaries for prayer.
“The rosary club uses them to pray together, and the life club prays for life issues,” said Sister Mary Anthony.
“We believe prayer is a weapon we can use,” said Kennedy, the life club co-moderator.
Perpetua left the extra twine with the school. She will begin working with Nazareth’s military club, and students will make rosaries to be sold at the school’s craft show in the fall. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org