BATTLE GROUND – Pat Waite describes herself as an “Army brat.”
Like her father, Waite served in the Army, where she met her Army husband. One of their sons served in the Army for 13 years and one of their grandsons has done tours in Afghanistan with the Army. “I’m just military, period,” Waite said.
So when she learned how to make rosaries a few years ago, she thought it was something she and others at Sacred Heart Parish in Battle Ground could do for the troops.
She started the Rosary Makers group, teaching the members how to make knotted rosaries, then beaded rosaries. In 2017, the group began donating rosaries: 2,500 to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and 700 to troops stationed out of Naval Base Kitsap, Waite said. (The group also makes rosaries to send with parishioners making mission trips to other countries.)
The military rosaries are made of sturdy paracord with black and brown beads. “You can keep it in your pocket, and it won’t break,” Waite said. “We use dark colors, so the enemy can’t see them. The troops love them,” she said. “Even non-Catholics ask for them.”
Rosaries for service members are crafted from dark-colored beads and paracord, for durability and safety. The Rosary Makers group at Sacred Parish in Battle Ground has donated more than 3,000 rosaries to troops based in Western Washington. Photo: Courtesy Pat Waite
Partners in the project are three Knights of Columbus councils: Council 7117 at Sacred Heart Parish and St. Joseph the Worker Mission in Yacolt, Council 10652 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Council 13395 in Silverdale.
The Silverdale Knights helped distribute rosaries to sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. Since the carrier doesn’t have a Catholic priest onboard currently, it’s important to give the sailors something they can “put in their pocket and hold onto,” said Jim Kellogg, a member of the Silverdale Knights.
“We were very fortunate to get all these rosaries, so we can give them something that will tie them to their Catholic roots,” Kellogg said.
In August, Petty Officer First Class Travis Chisholm received the blessed rosaries for his fellow Nimitz sailors during a Mass held at Bremerton’s Jackson Park Community Center.
“I think it’s comforting for them to have them,” Chisholm said. “On behalf of the USS Nimitz, we’re very thankful to have them.”
Each Wednesday after Mass at Sacred Heart, about 10–12 people gather to make the rosaries, Waite said.
Members of the Rosary Makers group gather each Wednesday at Sacred Heart Parish in Battle Ground. In the past two years, they have made more than 3,000 rosaries for members of the military and for parishioners going on mission trips. Photo: Courtesy Pat Waite
Many of them also have personal connections to the military and want to help the troops maintain a spiritual connection while they serve.
“I think the troops are strengthened knowing that the Blessed Mother is interceding for their endeavors,” said parishioner Shirley Poole, whose husband served in the Army in the 1970s. “They need that spiritual support, encouragement and inspiration.”
Besides reaching out to the Knights councils affiliated with the two bases so the rosaries could get to the troops, the Council 7117 Knights have supported the Rosary Makers by helping purchase supplies.
“A lot of that money came from scrap metal recycling,” said Knight John Vaillancourt. “The scrap metal collection was a service to people to get rid of junk. The labor is just a labor of love,” he said. “All around, it was a win-win situation.”