Helping people through difficult times is what the Rosary Makers at Mercy are all about. Patients who receive the rosaries often feel a sense of warmth and comfort knowing that the rosaries were made to spiritually support the healing process.
Mercy Rosary Makers were founded by Shirley Baumgartner, a retired nurse and current Mercy volunteer. Shirley loves helping people in any way possible. Her experience as a nurse taught her the value of cleanliness in preventing infections and protecting patients. Shirley makes sure that everyone in the group washes their hands, sanitizes the beads, and is free from illness before getting to work.
Shirley originally taught rosary making at her church. When she got the call from Mercy asking for her expertise and help, Shirley stepped up to the plate. She began calling various churches around the area to recruit rosary maker volunteers. One day, Marjorie Burkhart returned her call. Marjorie put an ad in her church’s bulletin asking for volunteers to make rosaries. One by one, parishioners of St. Peter Catholic Church signed up to make rosaries for the hospital. As a former educator, Marjorie found that teaching others how to make rosaries comes naturally to her.
The group is now full of loving and caring people who want to share the love of God to aid in the healing process. The group loves to be creative by coming up with different patterns and color schemes for each rosary. They like to have fun with the holidays and coordinate colors according to each holiday, such as red, white, and blue for the Fourth of July. For Shirley and Marjorie, and everyone else in the rosary making group, the most rewarding part of making rosaries is knowing that they have helped people in tough times with just a simple act.
Chaplain Travis Gingerich, BCC, Manager of Pastoral Care, recalled when he was comforting a family whose loved one had just died in the Coronary Care Unit (CCU). There were about a dozen family members in the room, including a young girl. When a family member noticed how upset the girl was, she hugged her and said reassuring words, but she would not be consoled. Chaplain Travis prayed for the family and they shared some memories of their loved one. It was only when a family member said some touching words about their faith that the young girl seemed comforted by his words. She saw a Rosary lying nearby, and asked, “What is that?” Her mother responded, “That’s the Rosary. Perhaps I’ll teach you how to say it.” This physical reminder of faith brought the family together so that their strong faith and the comfort it brought could be passed on to her.
Many of the group members agree that they enjoy their volunteer work because it really helps those who are fearful or in pain. Chaplain Travis described how the rosary is “spiritually meaningful because it is a physical reminder of how powerful faith can be.” The Pastoral Care staff agreed wholeheartedly and added that the rosary “helps people go to their depth in their faith and healing.” In addition, the Pastoral Care staff shared that some patients are in too much pain to pray the rosary but just holding it in their hands can bring about a sense of hope and comfort. The Rosary Makers group is a creative and talented group of people that want to come together to aid in the spiritual healing of patients at Mercy Medical Center.