Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Rosaries forge a link between Spokane, the Holy Land
the Inland Register
(From the April 29, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)
Bishop Skylstad presents rosaries to children at St. John Vianney Parish, Spokane, in February as his Confirmation gift to them. All confirmands in the diocese this year will receive one of these rosaries. (IR photo from Catholic Charities)
As Bishop Skylstad celebrates First Eucharist and Confirmation in parishes around the diocese this spring, he carries with him a small gift to personally present to every child and young person receiving the sacraments. That gift is a simple wooden rosary made by Palestinian Catholics living in and around Bethlehem. The rosaries are carefully fashioned from the pruned branches of young olive trees, using a centuries-old technique. Entire families are involved in the rosary making process, which provides needed income to the families and their communities.
The Holy Land has suffered enormously from continuing violence. Local economies are devastated by the reduction in tourism due to the conflict. This results in a shrinking market for the products, including religious articles made by local craftspeople.
The Spokane Diocese saw an opportunity to reach out to those attempting to make a living under such difficult conditions. With money returned to the diocese over the years for its participation in Catholic Relief Services’ Work of Human Hands project, a substantial order was placed for handmade rosaries. The rosaries were ordered directly from the Bethlehem Society for Rehabilitation, an organization assisting disabled children, adults and their families through medical, educational and vocational services.
The rosary project is part of a broader initiative being developed in the Spokane Diocese to connect Catholics living here with Catholics throughout the Jerusalem, Gaza and West Bank region. Don Rogers, Catholic Relief Services representative in Jerusalem, has been working with members of the diocese’s Catholic Relief Services advisory committee to engage parishes and parish groups in a partnership with similar groups in the Holy Land. Through a mutual sharing of communication, prayer, support and hope the twinning project encourages relationship and understanding.
The rosaries given by Bishop Skylstad can inspire young people and, indeed, the entire diocese to reflect on the needs of others, most especially those sisters and brothers in the faith who live each day in the shadow of the crucifixion and the promise of the resurrection.
(For more information about the Holy Land Initiative, please contact Pam Vail at 509-684-5742 (Colville).)