October 30, 2015

‘Real men’ build giant rosary to honor Blessed Mother

Members of the St. Lawrence School Class of 1961 in Indianapolis gather around a street sign on the parish campus on Sept. 18. Through a school fundraiser auction, class member Betsy Kinne Smith, standing in front of the sign in yellow, won the right to name the sign. On behalf of the class of 1961, she named it for their classmate Lt. Gen. Timothy Maude, the highest ranking officer killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Members of the St. Lawrence School Class of 1961 in Indianapolis gather around a street sign on the parish campus on Sept. 18. Through a school fundraiser auction, class member Betsy Kinne Smith, standing in front of the sign in yellow, won the right to name the sign. On behalf of the class of 1961, she named it for their classmate Lt. Gen. Timothy Maude, the highest ranking officer killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By John Shaughnessy

When Tim Horty and Bill Logan reverently unravel the enormous rosary, it’s natural to focus on its Paul Bunyan-esque dimensions.

After all, it extends 50 feet in length and weighs more than 100 pounds.

Still, the true measure of this rosary is found on a different level—in the impact it has had on the two men who created it, and the parish community that will benefit from it.

The first signs of that impact were on display on Oct. 16 when the huge rosary was unveiled during the annual fall festival at St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. A beautiful autumn evening of hayrides, bonfires and roasted hot dogs was capped by the parish community coming together to hold and pray the giant rosary.

“The idea was to come up with something to honor Mary during October, the month of the rosary,” says Father Todd Riebe, the pastor of St. Mark Parish. “We wanted to bring our families together, the old and young together, for this festival. It was a great atmosphere, and everyone was in awe of the beauty of the rosary.”

A lot of people were also in awe of the story behind the making of the giant rosary—the story of two guys who decided to combine their love for their Catholic faith with their love for power tools and woodworking to do something special for their parish and the Blessed Mother.

One of the inspirations for the rosary project was a book that Horty’s wife, Mary, thought would benefit him, Real Men Pray the Rosary, by David Calvillo.

“After reading the book, I’ve learned the mysteries are the real heart and soul of the rosary,” Horty says. “The author talks about the rosary in terms of ‘body’ and ‘soul.’ The beads of the rosary are the body, and the mysteries are the soul. Reciting the mysteries has added a whole new meaning to the rosary for me. They outline our entire Catholic faith.”

Horty wanted to capture that combination of the body and the soul in the giant rosary. When he had the plan for creating it, he enlisted the help of Logan, his friend and woodworking mentor.

Ever since a tornado roared through the north side of Indianapolis in the early 1990s, Logan has been collecting the remnants of trees that have fallen during storms or been cleared for construction projects. So Logan had enough oak wood for the Hail Mary beads that Horty wanted to make, and enough walnut wood for the Our Fathers of the rosary.

For more than six months, they worked on the project together, sawing wood, planing the pieces, and meticulously making 22 cuts to shape each bead. A few members of the parish’s men’s club also helped with the sanding of the beads. As the festival neared, Logan put the finishes touches on the last piece of the rosary—the cross.

Still, there was one more touch that Father Riebe wanted to add to a hollowed part of the cross where the two beams intersect. There, the pastor added a relic from the first American-born saint, St. Elizabeth Seton.

“We had a blessing prayer for the rosary before we prayed it that night,” Father Riebe says. “I love the idea that this is a tradition here.”

So do Logan and Horty.

“My hope is that the rosary becomes an icon for kids at the parish who are making their first Communion, their confirmation,” Horty says. “My hope is we can display it some place, or lend it to other parishes for their sacred events. It was flattering to use our skills to create this rosary for the whole parish.”

For Logan, the artistry of the giant rosary added another dimension to the numerous woodworking contributions he has made to St. Mark Parish through the years.

“It also brought Tim and me a little closer, and it brought Father and me a little closer,” he says.

Horty experienced those bonds at a deeper level, too. He is also grateful—and humbled—by two other relationships that deepened while creating this rosary. When he prays the rosary now, he not only is drawn closer to Mary, he also focuses on her son in the words, “and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”

“I have a whole new reverence for Mary,” he says. “It also has made me realize that when you pray each Hail Mary of the rosary, you’re not only praying to her, you’re also praying to Jesus.” †

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