David Calvillo grew up in a family that prayed the Rosary. The only problem was that as a young man prayer was the last thing on Calvillo’s mind.
“My mom always wanted us kids to pray the Rosary,” says the oldest of five kids who grew up in south Texas. “But I was too cool for it. In my opinion, the Rosary was for old ladies and funerals.”
In many ways, that was still Calvillo’s attitude — until 2008. While on a men’s retreat in September of that year, he experienced what he calls a “St. Paul-bolt-of-lightning experience.”
“I saw 80 men praying the Rosary on this retreat, and it was so moving for me. It was manly and macho, and literally brought me to tears. One morning before dawn, I had this peaceful feeling overcome me, where I felt close to my Mother, God and all the men I was with on retreat.”
It was the Holy Spirit, says Calvillo, that took over next. After reading every book on the Rosary he could get his hands on during the following months, he felt inspired to start a ministry called Real Men Pray the Rosary. With a logo of a man’s fist raised high and rosary beads wrapped around it, David and his wife, Valerie, launched Real Men Pray the Rosary on the feast of the Annunciation 2009.
According to the group’s website, RealMenPraytheRosary.org, the apostolate hopes to be a place where people can study, share and unite around the common bond of the Rosary. Specifically, the Calvillos have drawn from the words of Pope John Paul II as part of their group’s mission.
“Confidently take up the Rosary once again,” wrote the late Holy Father in his 2002 apostolic letter on the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae. “Rediscover the Rosary in the light of Scripture, in harmony with the liturgy and in the context of your daily lives.”
At last count, the Facebook page for Real Men had close to 12,000 followers. Each day David offers a brief meditation of his own as it relates to the Rosary mysteries being offered that day. An unexpected consequence of these short offerings has been the feedback offered by the page’s followers.
“We’ve seen incredible testimonies on the power of the Rosary. We’ve had people return to the sacraments or enter RCIA. Many of them credit these happenings to the sense of community they have found on the Real Men Facebook page,” says David.
Valerie says they are continually being thanked by many people.
“Wives have commented that they’ve see their husbands be more attentive to them and their children, and that their husbands begin to have a softer, more tender side. I think that’s our Blessed Mother working in them and building more love and compassion in their hearts,” explains Valerie.
At St. Joseph the Worker Church in McAllen, Texas, where David, Valerie and their five children attend, Father Alfonso Guevera says that this new apostolate has sparked a renewal in the parish as well as in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas.
“I have been very pleased and very proud of David and the men here at the parish. They are learning what authentic manhood is all about. They are growing deeper in their faith and becoming stronger husbands and fathers,” said Father Guevera.
At a rosary tying, where people get together and make rosaries, David says 50 to 100 people come to make rosaries. The rosaries are sent out to wherever they are needed, missions or to a particular prison.
“This whole experience,” says David, “has opened up a new world to me. It has introduced me to a community of prayer-filled people.”
Valerie agrees: “Community building is incredibly important in these times. I think we are providing a way for people to support each other in their faith and to learn more about our faith and our Catholic history and teachings. The Real Men Pray the Rosary community continues to impress me.
“It’s nothing David and I do, but as people continue to join the Facebook page and come to our rosary-tying events, I see the community strengthened and eager to learn more and experience more of our Catholic faith. It’s beautiful. It inspires me every day.”
Eddie O’Neill writes
from Green Bay, Wisconsin.