By Fr. Bill Kneemiller
In recent weeks, several Catholics have contacted me and mentioned that they want to support the Haiti rosary project. They had seen stories on the rosary project in The Catholic Messenger. I met with Liz McDermott and Gary Froeschle who volunteer for ServeHaiti. Recently, a donor pledged $15,000 in matching funds to help get the rosary factory off the ground. The matching pledges are through 2014.
Our strategy at this point is to continue to send the Holy Land Military Rosary materials with the Haiti medical mission and pay Haitians for their labor to assemble the rosaries and sew cases. Also, we are setting up a fund to reward any Haitians who can create the best-crafted “native” rosary, which will likely use coconut or coffee beans. Various beans are a good idea to use as beads as they do not contribute to any deforestation in Haiti. These native rosaries will be for sale to help make the rosary factory self-sufficient.
Recently, I wrote to Pope Francis to inform him of this project in Haiti and asked him if he would consider “renting out” some masterpieces from the Vatican Museum to wealthy people who could help fund more rosary factories in Haiti.
I also invite Catholics from around the Diocese of Davenport to do something similar to fund this, or to support a sister parish that their own parishes are supporting.
For example, many of us have squirreled away valuable items such as jewelry, gold rings or baseball cards from the 1950s that are just sitting in a drawer. Pray about it; look at photographs of people in Haiti eating cakes made from clay, as some Haitians have no food at all. Then, consider taking something of value, sell it and elevate it to a heavenly value by giving these proceeds to the poor.
Also, consider this project when planning your next vacation. From July 28 to Aug. 2, friends of the Haiti rosary factory will have a rosary factory convention in Branson, Mo. There is a special half-price rate available to families for a couple of days or the whole week. Daily Mass will be offered in addition to family friendly activities.
To make a donation to the rosary project, send checks made out to Ss. Philip & James Church — Haiti Project, c/o Fr. Kneemiller, P.O. Box 7, Grand Mound, IA 52751. For more information on the rosary project, visit the new website at www.holylandmilitaryrosary.org or call Fr. Kneemiller (also about the Branson trip) at (563) 321-0124.
(Fr. Kneemiller is pastor of parishes in Grand Mound, Lost Nation, Oxford Junction and Toronto.)