Mother Mary Comes to Me
When J. Gary Kuntz first audiotaped the Rosary adding music and his meditations, he never envisioned the number of people it would reach — or its effects.
From his home in Castle Rock, Colo., Kuntz soon heard from people like Sisters Josette and Georgette Markovitz, twin siblings and nuns working at the time in St. Anthony Hospital in Denver. One nun asked a patient disturbing the whole ward if he’d pray the Rosary with her, using the tape. He consented.
Away from the Church many years, the man began to cry after hearing the Rosary, asked for a priest and received the sacraments. He died in peace later that night.
A woman traveler stopped to tell a Knight of Columbus giving out Kuntz's tapes that her non-Catholic friend was so moved hearing the meditative Rosary she and her whole family converted to the Catholic Church.
A deacon stopped by Kuntz's parish of St. Francis of Assisi to tell of a woman he knew praying with the Rosary tape when she learned her teen son and daughter had been in an accident. She rushed to the scene to find their car completely wrecked, but the only injury was her daughter's slight scratch.
Through this feedback and in hundreds of letters, Kuntz has heard loads of similar stories since the tape came out in 1992, the year he produced it with his brother Knights of Columbus in their local St. Francis of Assisi Council.
Called the “The Knights of Columbus Rosary” until 2003 and given free, the tape is now re-named “Mother Mary's Rosary” and distributed through Kuntz's Mother Mary Ministries for whatever people can donate.
The apostolate developed in the early 1990s after Kuntz's spiritual journey deepened and he began writing down his vivid meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary. Shortly after, his local Grand Knight, Wayne Turner, asked him to be their council's church director.
“We had a Marian hour of prayer and I asked if he minded if I wrote up some meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary,” remembers Kuntz. Turner was delighted. Kuntz also sang “Watch the Lamb” for the sorrowful mysteries.
Soon he was leading this meditative Rosary at Marian conferences around Colorado. People began asking for a tape. That prompted the next step.
Kuntz first put the meditative Rosary in booklet form; the Knights distributed 9,000. Next, he recorded the 15-decade Rosary with the help of fellow Knights who prayed along and lead different decades. Besides his meditations, Kuntz and his wife Rita sang “Mary Had a Baby” for the joyful mysteries, and a version of the Hail Mary for the glorious. For both booklet and tape, he got an imprimatur from Bishop Michael Sheridan in the Colorado Springs diocese.
Putting together the final version was no easy task. Kuntz had to lie down much of the time because of major health problems. He contracted chronic fatigue syndrome from mold in his business office. He still suffers from it.
Despite the health battle, he completed the meditations and acted as the Knights’ state Rosary chairman. Now neither his chronic fatigue nor his wife's recent debilitating illness has stopped the distribution of this Rosary tape or his second recording (available on CD as well as audiotape).
Father William Vollmer, former pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, sees strength in this Rosary's combination of meditation and music.
“It isn't just a matter of sharing how you can meditate on this particular mystery,” says Father Vollmer. “Gary and Rita also have music which is inspiring and uplifting and enhances the recitation of the Rosary.
“People who have heard them sing their hymns have been very moved because they present a very inspirational and spiritual expression to the music,” adds the priest.
Father Vollmer finds the tape very beneficial for the homebound, seriously ill and travelers going to and from work.
“Driving from Denver to Glenwood in terrible rain and snow storms, I put the tape on and it had a calming effect,” attests Paul Brachle, of Albuquerque, N.M. After he heard the tape at a Knights’ convention he donated enough to supply a case of 250. Nearly all 100 members of his council wanted a copy.
“What touched them the most was the narration that went along with the mysteries,” Brachle explains. “It made the Rosary come alive for the men.”
Brachle, who's distributed more than 3,000 of the 31,000 copies Kuntz has given out so far, always took dozens along on his business travels all over England, Ireland, Scotland, France and Italy to give to priests by the handful.
Over the Internet, people have requested the tapes from Kuntz from Russia, Ukraine, the Far East, the Philippines, Sudan and the Congo. Yet because hardly anyone gives some affordable donation that he asks for the free tapes, he reminds, “Without donations we can't afford to continue our work.”
He's now hoping to send tapes/CD's free to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan — if donors will come forward to cover actual costs.
Closer to home, Wayne Turner of Franktown, Colo., Grand Knight when Kuntz first made the tape, says his teenage son Buddy has had 28 major surgeries from his spinal bifida. Turner says, “Guaranteed he would not have made it if prayers and the Rosary hadn't been there.”
Because of Pope John Paul II's request for prayers for peace, Kuntz added the “Prayers for Peace” tape/CD. It features the luminous mysteries, children praying the joyful mysteries, and Stations of the Cross that Kuntz led at his parish with his meditations he says were inspired by the Holy Spirit. The original meditative music was composed by Micki Davi.
Despite his own and his wife's health problems, Kuntz isn't deterred from the main goal for “Mother Mary's Rosary.”
“From day one the goal was to make the Rosary come alive for people who don't pray the Rosary, to encourage them to pray it,” he says. “For people already praying it, it will add another dimension to their prayer.”
Joseph Pronechen writes from Trumbull, Connecticut.