By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
When Father Bill Kneemiller received a call from EWTN producers asking him to be a guest on the Marcus Grodi show, he assumed the spotlight might give him a little stage fright. “I had friends praying for me,” he said.
Yet, as the crew members called him to the stage, he felt a sense of peace; he had a mission to share with the world how the rosary had changed his life, and how he uses the rosary to share faith and help improve the lives of others.
Fr. Kneemiller, the 64-year-old pastor of parishes in Grand Mound, Lost Nation, Toronto and Oxford Junction, flew all-expenses-paid to Grodi’s studio in Ohio at the end of August to film the show. It will air Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. and midnight, and Oct. 24 at noon.
He isn’t sure who told the show’s producers about his reconversion story and his rosary project, but was receptive to using the show as a platform to express how important a rosary can be for one’s faith. “I wanted to show people how amazing prayer with the heart is, and how amazing the rosary is that we take for granted. It’s just full of wonder and it transforms you.”
In the first half of the segment, Fr. Kneemiller said he shared how the rosary had pulled him from a life devoted to seeking truth through eastern meditation techniques. He had become involved in the movement while attending college in Columbia, Mo. in the 1960s, and later moved to Fairfield, Iowa, to join the strong eastern meditation movement there. Though he had grown up Catholic, he never thought he could find the truth he was seeking in the religion of his boyhood until he observed a family praying the rosary together around 1990. “They didn’t rush through it; it was very heartfelt and very touching,” he remembered. I consider myself a seeker, and I searched the whole world for the truth, but Jesus Christ is the embodiment of truth. He is the way, the truth and the light. Praying the rosary helped me realize that was the truth.”
He told The Catholic Messenger he credits that family for giving him the inspiration to reject eastern meditation, dive into Catholicism and the rosary, and answer his calling to priesthood. “If it weren’t for that family, I might have stayed in Fairfield.”
In the second half of Grodi’s program, Fr. Kneemiller said he talked about how he is using the rosary as a tool to help poor families from Haiti, support Palestinian Christians, and give faith and hope to children and military troops throughout the world through his Holy Land Military Rosary project. Since the project’s inception in 2012, about 5,000 rosaries have been created and distributed. He said the rosaries offer a source of income for Catholics in Bethlehem who harvest wood and carve the crosses, and also to Haitians who assemble the rosaries.
The rosaries have generally been distributed to troops, but have recently been used as an evangelization and faith building tool within the Davenport Diocese, as well. By being on the show, Fr. Kneemiller said he hoped to be able to spread awareness about the project so others could get involved with it. He noted that he will have a booth at the upcoming Christ our Life Conference in Des Moines in September to answer questions.
Fr. Kneemiller insists that, despite receiving the star treatment for a day by being on an EWTN program, he is not a celebrity. He is simply grateful for the opportunity to share his story and his passion for the rosary project. “It was a privilege to be able to help spread the message.”