Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
During the worst of times during World War II, Venerable Fulton Sheen wrote Wartime Prayer Book that brought comfort and strength of soul and spirit to countless thousands of military personnel, seeing them through the darkest of times.
Today, Fulton Sheen’s Wartime Prayer Book is still available and continues to help not only those in the military but also anyone who has a copy.
The Holy Land Military Rosary became another major boost recently, distributing thousands of handmade rosaries to any military chaplain and military personnel requesting them.
Now the Holy Land Military Rosary has taken another step forward — and needs help with the move to get thousands of free rosaries into the hands of our military. They need this most necessary spiritual weapon.
Lighthouse Catholic Media used to distribute these rosaries for HLMR which made them, but recently Lighthouse was acquired by the Augustine Institute. At the time, Augustine Institute graciously consented to continue sending the Holy Land Military Rosaries to any military chaplains who request them, and they also name this Rosary their "Official Military Rosary."
Kathleen Quinn, who oversees the Rosary project from its base in Iowa, called it “an honor for us.”
Before looking at what’s in store now, let’s take a quick look at the basics, like we’ve just got to camp.
Supplying the Troops
U.S. Army Chaplain Father William Kneemiller of Davenport, Iowa, got the idea for this rosary after seeing the need to bring free rosaries to the chaplains and service men and women who he was serving in his various assignments.
Recently retired with the rank of Major, Father Kneemiller had overseas deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, and another Middle Eastern country. He envisioned the rosary made of military grade parachute cord because it could stand up to tough conditions in the field, and a crucifix of olivewood fashioned in the Holy Land. The corpus would be pewter and the beads black. This crucifix would make a personal connection between the user and the place where Jesus lived and died for us.
Once people in his parish in Iowa heard his idea, they enlisted in seeing the project come to life. Even children in the parish school raised $250 for the supplies. Women on this homefront began making the rosaries, and soon completed over 2,500. Every penny raised went for supplies. And still does. The enlistees even volunteered to make sturdy rosary cases from remnant fabrics that were donated.
Yet there’s more. This project began to help — and still does — two more missions.
Battalion One. Through a contact, Catholic Christians suffering in Bethlehem hand-carve the olivewood crosses. For many, it’s their only means of income for survival. Besides, any service man or woman who gets the rosary has a piece of the Holy Land as a reminder of how Jesus suffered for them.
Battalion Two. A large number of the poorest in Haiti get some part-time employment to earn a living wage because the Iowa branch of ServeHAITI purchased rosary making supplies and paid these Haitians to assemble even more rosaries for this great project.
At the same time, small platoons of women in some Iowa parishes do — and continue to do — their part from the homefront assembling rosaries for our military.
Current Situation and Strategy
Joseph Algers who is on the HLMR board and also a representative of Lighthouse’s distribution of free good for the military — he works for no salary, by the way — gave an update of the situation. When Augustine Institute acquired Lighthouse, the free offers to chaplains remained in place. Algers explained Lighthouse offered up to 250 of their items free of charge to military chaplains throughout the world.
“Then they can order again anytime they want to,” he said. “Lighthouse saw this as helping Catholic chaplains spread the faith since 2015. Augustine Institute continues to carry out this benevolent mission.”
The free HLMR is continuing in the same program, Algers said. But HLMR is on its own as far as costs making them are concerned. It receives no money from Augustine Institute for supplies necessary to make them. The only source of monies for supplies is from outside donations.
“The good ladies are making these and whenever they get a batch of 1,000 they send them out to the Augustine Institute (for distribution to chaplains).”
Even though chaplains order 100-200 at a time, Algers has to limit each order to 50 so they can be distributed more widely. But chaplains can order more simply by filling in another order.
The supply lines to the military who are anxious to get the rosaries for our troops are slow for two reasons.
One — the HLMR has to rely totally on these donations for the materials for the rosaries. “We need funds, donations,” Algers emphasizes. “It’s a beautiful mission. The problem is it takes money.” And the ladies are trying to get 1,000 rosaries done by Christmas.”
Two — there needs to be more people making them.
Quinn explained two new initiatives for this Holy Land Military Rosary.
Number One. The HLMR board is starting a "200 Club”. The idea is to get 200 people to donate $10 a month for a year so the HLMR can meet its goal of 7,000 rosaries a year.
“This year we want to get donations for the $20,000 for so we can do 7000 rosaries,” Algers explains. This does not mean they don’t need others to help. Any amount.
Number Two. Quinn points out that to keep the Augustine Institute well supplied the HLMR makers know there are other rosary-making groups around the country and want to encourage them to join up and participate in helping make these for the military. That way the HLMR will have an ample supply.
Quinn assures the process is pretty much the same. What makes it different are the hand-carved crucifix from the Holy Land and parachute cord. Directions are even on the website. But the materials used have to be from HLMR so all rosaries are the same.
The materials cost only about $2.60 for each rosary. Since other small groups who’d like to join the effort might find that even $2.60 for the material which they need to get from the HLMR for each rosary is high for them, Quinn relates that Father Kneemiller “always recommends that any groups that would like to help us keep the supply to the Military up…check with their local Knights of Columbus to help them with any funding they may need to purchase the materials.”
The whole idea is to keep the Augustine Institute well supplied so they can get as many free rosaries into the hands of our military chaplains and to all our Catholic troops who want them — and there are plenty who do.
It’s rather simple to give a donation via credit card or a check via mail by clicking the website of the HLMR for information.
In World War II the troops won with the help of all on the homefront doing their part. Again those on the homefront need to pitch in and help or military win spiritual battles too, with spiritual supplies. In this case, a free rosary.
Remember, St. Padre Pio called The Rosary “the Weapon.” Arm our troops with the best one for peace.