The Living Rosary


Written by Karen Quinby

The March 2008 HNOJ KC Rosary Story


As a child I remember learning the rosary, but didn’t really embrace it as a form of prayer. In adulthood, I had several friends that frequently recited a rosary, and I decided to give it a try. Around that time, a friend was diagnosed with cancer. A living rosary was being said for her, and she requested that I attend. I had never done this before, and as I wasn’t as familiar with the recitation, I was a little nervous. However, I was excited to go for her.


If you have never been to a living rosary, it is beautiful. A group is gathered, and for each Hail Mary that is recited, someone brings up a rose. As there is usually a large group of people, it is very powerful to hear the prayers recited. At the end, there are large bouquets of roses. My friend said that she could feel God’s presence surrounding her the entire time.


A short time later, my daughter’s best friend who was going into 7th grade found out she had a large tumor in her neck that was attached to her spine. She had surgery to remove it and they were assured that it was benign. Then the bad news started to come. Each time I called the family to ask how things were going, the news seemed more grim. The tumor went from being benign to malignant and very rare. They had to rebuild her spine and insert a rod. That didn’t work so well, so they had to take everything out in a series of three surgeries and rebuild it again, then to Boston for ten weeks of radiation. I couldn’t imagine the stress and worry the family was going through, and was at a loss for something tangible that I could do to help.


Then the call came. I was asked if I would lead a living rosary for Katie so we could all pray and support their family. I was nervous. I had only begun to embrace this prayer, and now I was being asked to lead a group. God lead my heart to say yes, and I trusted in him. 


I prepared ahead of time. I chose what mysteries to recite, and dedicated each mystery to someone who provides support for Katie; her family, her friends, her teachers, her faith. My daughter Becky and I went out and purchased a rosary that Katie could keep throughout her ordeal. The church filled up. Many of her friends and classmates were there supporting her. 


The entire HNOJ elementary school was present as Katie was a graduate, and her younger sisters were students. The principal and I spoke, and we decided we would dismiss the younger grades after the first decade. We were concerned that they would get antsy, and we felt that one decade would be enough. As I began the rosary, the entire church was silent. I instructed everyone as to how to recite the prayers, and they all dutifully followed. Their behavior was impeccable. I will never forget after dismissing the students as we had planned, wishing that I hadn’t. I believe that God was touching their hearts so profoundly that none of them would have stirred but for reciting their prayers. I cannot begin to tell you how powerful the presence of the Holy Spirit was on that day and how honored I was to be there.

When we were done, I walked to Katie, gave her a hug, and gave her the rosary. I told her to keep it close to her heart, as it had the power of everyone’s prayers with it. Later, I heard that she would give it to her Mom before her surgeries and ask her to say her prayers with that rosary. 


Katie is now 21 years old. She has a rod in her neck that limits her movement, and a few scars, but she is a lovely woman. She enjoys vocal music and has pursued that passion in college. I have listened to her sing (you may have too as she cantors at mass sometimes) and she has the voice of an angel.


The rosary continues to be a powerful prayer for me. I recite it often, both in times of need and thanksgiving. My prayers always seem to be answered. They are not always answered right away, but the answer almost always seems to be clear to me after some time.   I am so grateful that God, and my friend, led me to this prayer.

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