Skip to comments."Ranger Rosaries:" A Spiritual Weapon For Our Fighting Men (My Title)
Posted on 08/20/2004 6:46:45 AM PDT by Pyro7480
August 10, 2004 / ANNAPOLIS, Md. Machine guns, killer knives, grenades and combat boots. These are the tools of modern combat warriors.
And rosary beads, says Sgt. 1st Class Frank Ristaino, a former Marine and a recruiter for the Maryland National Guard.
Rosaries are readily available to any soldier in the military, Ristaino said. Just about any military chaplain hands them out.
Unfortunately, many of the standard rosaries distributed by chaplains dont hold up so well in combat situations, because of weak strings or chains. They come in pastel pinks and blues, which clash against the tough exteriors of Navy SEALS, Army Rangers and trench-hardened Marines.
So Ristaino invented what a growing number of soldiers consider the mother of all rosariesthe Ranger Rosary, an ultra-tough model that comes in a variety of military colors. The beads are strung on what the military classifies as 550 cord: a tough, lightweight rope that connects soldiers to their parachutes.
The handmade rosaries are popular among soldiers, and military chaplains are requesting them faster than volunteers participating in the Ranger Rosary project can turn them out.
While we have considerable numbers of other rosaries that have been very generously donated to us, I would like to assure a supply of the Ranger Rosaries here at Kirkuk, if possible, due to their advantages for the combat conditions in which our troops, especially our soldiers, find themselves, wrote Father Pat Travers, a chaplain at Kirkuk Regional Air Base in northeastern Iraq, in a formal request for more Ranger Rosaries.
Ristaino, a father of 11, was inspired to invent the Ranger Rosary while attending the Marine Corps officer candidate school in 1985. He and other candidates were learning to keep pace as part of a land navigation course.
Catholics Ought To Be Good
Each soldier was issued a pace-keeping contraption that was made out of heavy-duty plastic beads strung on parachute cord. After pacing 100 meters, each soldier would slide one of nine beads from the top of the string to the bottom.
The instructor said, You Catholics ought to be good at this, making a joke about rosary beads. Then it struck me, Ristaino recalled. Yes, heavy-duty beads and 550 cord would make good rosaries for combat zones.
He sat on the idea until the late 1990s, when several of his children began learning to make mission rosaries under the instruction of volunteers from the Legion of Mary.
Ristaino got most of his children involved in making Ranger Rosaries, and many of their fellow students at St. Marys High School in Annapolis joined in. Catholic elementary-school students began making them, as did young adults who attended Theology on Tap. The Rosary Guild at St. Marys Parish in Annapolis began coordinating the rosary-making efforts of various groups, and soon several hundred rosaries were made and shipped to military chaplains for distribution in Bosnia.
Today, parish organizations, schoolchildren, rosary guilds and a variety of other Catholic organizations and individual volunteers throughout the United States are making hundreds of rosaries for distribution in Afghanistan and Iraq.
These soldiers dont just get a rosary, but a prayer partner as well, said Kathy Feddor, 63, of Annapolis, who heads up the Ranger rosary ministry. She explained that people who make the rosaries also pray every day for the troops who receive them.
Feddor estimates that volunteers have raised money for and produced about 15,000 Ranger Rosaries by hand for American troops. Each heavy-duty rosary costs about $1 to produce, she said.
Pat Evans, 70, was one Legion of Mary volunteer who taught Ristainos children to make rosaries.
A lot of our soldiers in the Middle East say they almost feel forgotten, and it makes a huge difference when they get one of these rosaries, Evans said. If a soldier is fearful and has this rosary on his presence, he can ask Our Lady to ask the Lord for protection.
Ristaino says the rosary is popular among soldiers for one reason.
The strength you get from praying the rosary is remarkable, Ristaino said. People in the military learn that pretty quickly.
Thats true, agreed Father Bill Devine, a military chaplain in Iraq.
As I travel around, celebrating Mass or talking with Marines, I see the rosary hanging inside their vehicles, tanks and living quarters, Father Devine wrote to Ranger Rosary volunteers. They have it hung over their racks or on their flak jackets. Many wear them around their necks. They are an ever-constant reminder of the power of Our Ladys intercession and protection on these young men.
Wayne Laugesen writes from Boulder, Colorado.
Staff notes by Richard Szczepanowski
As is often the case when our nation is at war, many around the country rally in support of our troops. The war in Iraq is no exception. There are groups of Catholics encouraging our men and women in the armed services who are in harm's way. They do not, however, plant Victory Gardens or forego a new pair of nylon stockings or roll bandages. This modern group of homefront warriors is making rosaries for our troops.
Dubbed "Ranger Rosaries," because they are made specially for military personnel, more than 16,000 have been sent to troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places around the world.
"Ranger Rosaries" was a project stated by Frank "Bo" Ristaino, a parishioner of St. Mary Church in Annapolis, and a sergeant with Maryland's Army National Guard. In 1981, he thought of using parachute cord and plastic beads to make rosaries. When several of his 10 children were members of the Junior Legion of Mary and learning to make rosaries for the missions, Sgt. Ristaino, his wife and children began making the "military regulation" rosaries. The family made about 800 of them for distribution to troops deployed in Bosnia.
What makes a rosary a "Ranger" Rosary"? They are made of olive-green parachute cord and black or dark blue plastic beads. Not only does this make them heavy-duty and less likely to break, but there are no metal parts that would reflect light or make a rattling sound.
Sgt. Ristaino, along with fellow parishioners Steve Beard and Pat Evans, got several parish groups to start making the Ranger Rosaries for our troops in Iraq. Other parishes in other parts of Maryland, and then parishes throughout the country became interested in the project. Now Ranger Rosary making groups have been formed as far away as Texas, Iowa, Tennessee and Delaware. According to Evans, Delaware is "on fire with groups making the rosaries, and it's continuing to spread all over the country with chapters starting everywhere."
Evans said that in addition to the black and blue plastic beads originally used to make the rosaries, the group is now making tan-colored rosaries for use by those serving in the desert.
"We ship our rosaries to a number of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine chaplains," Evans said. "We've gotten thank you letters from all over. The rosaries are in Baghdad, other cities in Iraq, Japan, Guam, on a submarine near Alaska and other places."
She said that she knows the troops are grateful. She points to an e-mail - one of many from military chaplains - that attest to how important these rosaries are to servicemen and women.
"The soldiers have been briefed on the importance of devotion to Our Lady and we rely on her protection. The battalion has already undertaken to program a trip to Lourdes as soon as we return safely to Germany," wrote an Army chaplain, whose identity is being kept secret for security purposes. "Your rosaries have been a huge hit with everyone... Words cannot express the gratitude we feel for all of the hard work that you and your rosary making team have gone through to support our mission here in Iraq. Though the violence continues unabated, I am sure that things would have been worse had it not been for the constant intercession of Our Lady. Your efforts have helped to increase the devotion to her intercessory powers."
Evans added that chaplains have reported to her that soldiers put the rosaries on the bodies of their wounded and dead comrades.
"Even the Protestant chaplains want them for their men," Evans said. "We get letters and e-mails telling us how much this means to them because they are out there and they feel so all alone, and then someone sends them this rosary and they know that we are thinking of them and praying for them."
After a volunteer completes a Ranger Rosary, he or she offers prayers for the soldier who will receive it. The rosaries are also blessed before they are sent overseas. Along with the Ranger Rosaries, the spiritual warfare care packages sent to the troops include pamphlets on how to pray the rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, as well as prayer cards.
For more information on how to make Ranger Rosaries or to start a rosary-making group, log on to www.rangerrosary.com.
Ping for a wonderful story on Catholics showing their concern for our armed forces!
Pinging the other catholics for assistance in spreading this information and developing a groundswell of missionary activity.
God bless you Pyro, for bringing this to our attention!
Catholic Ping - let me know if you want on/off this list
Great post. I just sent my soldier a brown St. Michael scapular and miraculous medals. As far as the forgotten soldiers are concerned, they should be advised to sign up for adoption, ie. Operation A.C. or Operation Millitary Support.
I used to make rosaries all the time. They are really quick and easy. (wonderful when I was on jury duty!)
I'll look into this.
What a great story! With these Ranger Rosaries and the prayers of the faithful on behalf of our military in Iraq, I'd say it's a winning combination.
Please pray for our nurses and doctors in Iraq -- as a special intention. Thank you.
The strength you get from praying the rosary is remarkable, Ristaino said.
This is so true.
bookmark for later
Follow the link ... they have instructions on how to make these rosaries. 550 cord can be had at Army/Navy surplus stores and some gun shops. The beads presumably from a craft store. They specify "pony beads". Anybody know what that means? How about a source for the Crucifixes?
"If you are interested in making mission rosaries or want to make rosaries to share with friends, consider the knotted cord rosary or chaplet. This technique of prayer counting is one of the very first ever used by the early fathers of the church."
"Knotted cord rosaries were issued in Viet Nam to various members of our armed forces. Chaplains would give knotted khaki cord rosaries to the troops to carry into battle. We also heard that they were worn around the neck and smuggled into countries where the church was not allowed. They were safe as metal detectors would not pick them up."
While the site linked above has directions for knotted cord rosaries, these instructions seem clearer to me.
And a Web site devoted to making and giving away knotted cord rosaries: Rosary Army
I think it refers to the shape of the beads.
How about a source for the Crucifixes?
The first link I provided above has a link to a supplier of the twine which also supplies plastic crucifixes (20/$1). According to this page on military rosaries, "CROSSES[Crucifixes]: Prefer all black. Prefer plastic to metal but will accept metal only for recruits in training."
I have made the knotted cord rosaries before! They're very simple to make, and cheap to mass produce! Thanks for the link.
Is it required that a Rosary have a crucifix? I've made versions with just a cross made of knots at the end.
It is customary, though, and If I were going to the trouble of making one (or more) I'd want to do it "right". That would, IMO, include the Crucifix.
Thanks for your insight. Yeah, how do you think Catholics under persecution said the Rosary?
Go to Michael's - they're standard beads, about 3/8 of an inch diameter, maybe 3/16 high, plastic, big hole. The bags are clearly marked "pony beads."
As an aside, does anyone know where I could order that poster of the priest kneeling in the desert with the soldier giving him a blessing? It's on the catholicmil.org page but just as an image, and a small one at that. I have a good friend in Iraq right now who would like to have one of these for his tent. I wanted to order him one and send it as a surprise. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
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