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Breda Rosary Makers make, repair rosaries

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)

BREDA – Since 1970, a group of women from St. Bernard Parish have been making and repairing rosaries.

The Rosary Makers, as they are called, is now a small group of three women – Joanell Koster, Pat Koster and Jean Grote. Each of the women has a specialty. Pat makes hanging rosaries made out of flowers. Jean makes “the real special ones,” noted Joanell.

“My mother-in-law taught me to make them,” said Joanell. “Then we started to get people interested. We had quite a group, but so many of the older ones have passed on.”

The group used to meet every other month, but now they meet about two times a year. They are affiliated with the Rosary Makers in Carroll that also makes rosaries. They make rosaries for the first Communion children and pass them out to them.

“We make lots and lots of rosaries,” said Joanell. “When a missionary comes, we send some home with him. We send them to Louisville, Ky., and they are distributed from there.”

The group also repairs rosaries. They sometimes get old rosaries from the family of someone who has died.

“We plan on doing it until we are unable. All of us are close to 70 some in age,” said Joanell. “We would like to get people to start it up again if we could. It’s not really that hard. It is just time consuming.”

The Rosary Makers say the rosary at the funeral homes for the women and there is a rosary every morning before Mass.

Making rosaries

This group makes metal chain rosaries. The crosses and centers are metal with a variety of plastic beads. It takes about an hour and a half to make one.

They get the materials from Our Lady’s Rosary Makers in Louisville. Throughout the year, they each make about 150 to 200 rosaries.

“It is very inspiring to make them and be able to send them off,” said Joanell. They receive a newsletter indicating where the rosaries have been sent including to the missions and how they enjoy them.

During Lent, Joanell tries to make one rosary each day. Pat said she tries to make a pack of 10 each week of Lent.

“I enjoy doing them,” said Pat. “I usually pray for the people who are going to be using them. It is a nice pastime.”

“During the summer you don’t make as many as you do in the winter,” said Joanell, who recently took a box of about 1,500 rosaries to Louisville to be distributed.

Pat pointed out that if she is making a rosary with glass beads, it takes longer because “you have to be more careful with tucking the wire in and not breaking the glass.”

She gets special orders for glass bead rosaries and rose petal rosaries, which are a lot of work she said.

To make a rose petal rosary, the petals need to be very dry, then Pat blends them in the blender to make a powder out of them. She mixes them with watered down glue. Each bead is rolled individually and put on a pin to dry so there is a hole in the center.

“Then I take the pin out and put the wire through and make the rosary like we do the other rosaries,” said Pat. “Those take a lot of time. It takes about an hour and a half to roll the beads. Then it takes about an hour and a half or two hours to make the rosary itself.”

She explained the rose petal rosaries are usually made from funeral bouquets as a memorial. She also made some last fall from wedding flowers. It takes about eight to 10 roses to make a rosary.

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