‘A True Rosary Man’: Popular Booklets and CDs Promote Prayer
‘A Knight’s Rosary’ is available in a new, expanded version.
Jesus’ description of the mustard seed — “the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree” — well fits what Gary Kuntz of Castle Rock, Colorado, did when he wrote and distributed a booklet called The Knights of Columbus Rosary. That booklet, which has blessed thousands of people throughout the United States and the world, is now available in a new, expanded version called simply, A Knight’s Rosary.
The booklet began with a lightbulb moment back in 1990. During a pilgrimage to a Marian shrine, “the mysteries of the Rosary really came alive to me,” Kuntz explained to the Register. Writing down copious amounts of meditations while kneeling in prayer, he asked, “Lord, what am I to do with all these notes?” With his eyes closed, he said he saw in capital letters, “MAYBE YOU COULD MAKE A VIDEO.”
But when he returned to Colorado, another avenue opened that led to spreading the Rosary by a different route. At his parish of St. Francis of Assisi, the grand knight at Council 8909 asked him to be the council’s charity director, which included speaking on the Rosary at the Knights’ state convention. “From there,” he recalled, he “was led, step by step, to produce Rosary booklets, tapes and, later, CDs.”
In 1991 came the first booklet, The Knights of Columbus Rosary. In the course of a few years, through advertising and articles in Catholic publications, 10,000 booklets were printed and mailed throughout the United States alone. Recipients sent numerous letters of appreciation to say it was their favorite Rosary book.
Then Kuntz was appointed by the Knights’ state deputy to serve as the Knights’ state Rosary chairman, traveling to visit churches and church groups to lead the Rosary and speak about the Marian devotion and the Catholic faith.
That appointment led to meeting the president of Denver’s CTVA television station, which was broadcasting EWTN to viewers in the Denver area. Kuntz found himself promoting EWTN on that station as well as interviewing speakers and priests. As a result, the Knights’ Colorado State Council named him state “Catholicism in the Media” chairman.
Kuntz soon added The Knights of Columbus Rosary tape, featuring meditations and songs for each of the 15 mysteries. It blossomed after he and his late wife, Rita, both choir members — she the lead singer — added a song for each of the mysteries.
In addition to thousands of booklets, the Knights sent out more than 50,000 of The Knights of Columbus Rosary tapes all over the world, even as far as Russia, the Philippines and Australia. Those efforts led to the council winning the Colorado Knights of Columbus’ top church awards for two years running.
It was not easy. Years before, a back injury put an end to his career as an airline pilot, so Kuntz turned to his idea of writing movie screenplays. Major studios were initially interested in his work, but that interest quickly faded. Suffering chronic fatigue syndrome led to more challenges for Kuntz. And his family was beset with health challenges, too. “Not much later, my son came down with MS, my wife was stricken with early-onset Alzheimer’s, and my older daughter was in three car accidents, none her fault, which has caused her chronic pain.”
Despite the hardships, the Rosary booklet and tapes initiative continued to grow. In writing the meditations, Kuntz shared, “When I would pray the Sorrowful Mysteries in church, they were so powerful I would weep.” Yet with the meditations he wrote, he “didn’t want to conflict with the Church’s teachings” — and thus sought Church approval.
Bishop Richard Hanifen of Colorado Springs approved the original booklets and tapes, and his successor, Bishop Michael Sheridan, approved additional prayer aids.
More recently, numerous requests prompted the Knights to remake the booklet, doubling it in size; again, Bishop Sheridan and the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council granted their approval. A Knight’s Rosary booklet now includes the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, long and short meditations for the Rosary, an original Litany of Divine Mercy, a blessing prayer for the home and family, the Angelus, other prayers and teachings on sacramentals and, notably, a cover painting of Jesus by professional artist Joan Cameron Mitchell, a Catholic who also did art projects for the Archdiocese of Denver and Diocese of Colorado Springs.
Kuntz relates how people have written to share stories about how the booklets and tapes have inspired others.
Twin sisters from Kansas who are also religious sisters, Josette and Georgette Markovitz, took copies to St. Anthony Hospice in Denver where they worked. One night, a dying man who had been away from the Church for years adamantly refused to see a priest. Sister Josette got him to consent to listen to the Rosary tape. After listening to the Sorrowful Mysteries, with tears in his eyes, he asked to see a priest right away. He did — and later that night he died, with the benefit of the sacraments.
“We had stories like that all the time,” Kuntz said. Another letter came from a woman whose teenagers were in a terrible car wreck but emerged without a scratch. The mother attributed their safety to the fact that she was praying along with the Rosary tape at the time of the accident.
“I use the book and pass out as many as I can,” said Mick Harper, also a knight in the St. Francis Church Knights of Columbus council. “It’s got everything you need to get your prayer life around the Rosary in a good place. By being simple, it’s really very helpful, creating that daily habit to get yourself into a routine saying the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet.”
Harper likes both the short and long meditations, the Litany of Divine Mercy, the Angelus, the Fatima offering prayer and the inspiring stories. During the pandemic, he gathered several family members to pray a nightly Rosary using this booklet. He takes a copy in his coat and also has one everywhere he prays, he said, adding, “Gary is a true Rosary man. He is a mentor to me, as an example.”
Mike Kovacs witnessed firsthand how quickly the Rosary booklet caught on. When the first edition came out, he sent one to his mother, Justine, in their hometown of Avon Lake, Ohio. As chair of the Ladies Guild at Holy Spirit parish, she introduced other women to the booklet.
Interest grew, and they “had as many as 40 women who had the initial version,” he recalled. “As the new updated versions came out with more meditations, in addition to the children’s Rosary, my mother would get them and use them as a tool and guide, praying with the ladies.” Then came the Rosary CD. “My mother and her choirmates loved her singing and were inspired by it,” Kovacs said of Rita’s melodies. Now retired, Kovacs said he is going to help Kuntz with market development to get the book even more widely known. To date, thanks to Kuntz’s efforts, his local council has sent out approximately 62,000 books, tapes and CDs worldwide. “Over the years, we were led to make other prayer aids, including the Stations of the Cross with heart-touching meditations and beautiful background music, and a Children’s Rosary with simple but meaningful meditations,” Kuntz said.
Kuntz has not forgotten that original idea for a video either.
“Bit by bit, during prayer,” he said, he’s seeing “how to put together a video script.”
As that initial mustard seed continues to grow, the Knights’ goal remains the same as when the first batch of The Knights of Columbus Rosary booklets launched: “to touch hearts and make your prayers come alive and be more meaningful … which is needed more than ever in these challenging times.”
READ AND LISTEN
For more information, visit AKnightsRosary.org.
The booklets are available at cost, even decreasing as the size of the order increases. The brand-new two-CD Rosary sets feature all four mysteries of the Rosary, a Children’s Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with meditations, and the Angelus.
When ordering by mail, the Knights are asking $5 per book, which is below cost. If you would like to help, an extra $1 is appreciated. CD sets are available by mail to churches, religious houses and Knights of Columbus councils for $11 each ($8 + $3 shipping) and to all others for $15 each ($12 + $3 postage). Kuntz also said the Knights are including a free book with each order of a single CD set when “Blue Light Special” is mentioned.
Currently, the Stations of the Cross are available only via download on the website for minimal cost.