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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Gifts in Unexpected Places

As I sit in my office snowed in due to our first Nor'Easter of the season, I came across this truly wonderful story that I thought my readers might like. It will definitely bring a smile to your faces. God gives us gifts in the most unexpected places, and people.

This article is from Catholic Online.

God love you,
Father V.

Handicapped ‘master’ missionary rosary maker gives back to God

By Jennifer Willems2/12/2007
The Catholic Post

GENESEO, Ill. (The Catholic Post) – Eddie DePauw will never cure cancer. He won’t lead the stock market to a record-breaking rally and he will never be elected to office. Born with Down syndrome, his gift is much simpler but it still has the potential to change lives around the world.
DePauw, 44, is a "master missionary rosary maker." As a member of the Rosary Makers of St. Malachy Church here, he has been responsible for helping the group send approximately 3,200 missionary rosaries to people in hospitals, nursing homes and adoration chapels in the United States as well as missions in Africa, the Philippines, Brazil and India over the last seven years.

"I think we formed the group for Eddie and for the blessed mother, so he could give something back," said Jolene Thompson, a member of the Rosary Makers. "His rosaries are definitely blessed."

Part of a national organization known as Our Lady’s Rosary Makers, which is based in Louisville, Ky., the Rosary Makers of St. Malachy’s Church create two kinds of rosaries.

The first are chained rosaries, which are sold to help the group buy materials and ship what they have made to the missions. Thompson noted that these rosaries require some practice and skill to make.

The second kind of rosaries the group makes is cord rosaries, which are knotted. These are the rosaries at which Eddie is a master.

"The missionary rosary is fairly simple," Thompson told The Catholic Post. "There’s a knot you have to learn between the decades but that’s not very complicated."

Jeanette DePauw, Eddie’s mother, said the repetition is what makes it possible for Eddie to make the rosaries so easily and with such grace. "Once you get it, you’ve got it," she explained.
Thompson provides the supplies and then lets Eddie make the rosaries in whatever colors he chooses. When asked what his favorite colors are for the rosaries, Eddie lists red, blue, white and green.

Many of those colors can be found in the World Mission Rosary, which was developed and promoted by Archbishop Fulton Sheen, whose cause for sainthood the Diocese of Peoria is promoting. The decades, made of clear, red, yellow, blue and green beads, represent different continents, according to Thompson.

Eddie received a World Mission Rosary kit for his birthday and works on them, along with all of the other rosaries he makes for the missions, at a table in his bedroom that is piled with beads and plastic crosses. Spools of white, black and brown cord rest on the television stand behind the desk, within easy reach.

Meticulous in counting and placing the beads just so, Eddie ties the knots as he moves from one decade of the rosary to the next. Having a visitor taking pictures and being bombarded by conversation all around him might have distracted another person, but Eddie – a man of action but few words – focused his full attention on what he was doing until he had a rosary made to his satisfaction.

"We’re just so amazed to see him be able to do this," Thompson told The Catholic Post. "What’s interesting for me to watch is his dexterity in working with the small beads."

Commitment is what makes Eddie such a valuable member of the Rosary Makers of St. Malachy’s Church, according to Thompson.

"He is very committed to it – he keeps us going," she said, noting that he also contributes joy and a simple faith to whatever he does.

In addition to making rosaries, Eddie bags them and puts labels on the bags to let the recipients know who has provided the prayer aids for them. He even has a say in where they’ll go.

"We give Eddie a list and say, ‘Where shall we send them?’" Thompson explained.

"We have gotten some beautiful letters back with blessings for Eddie," she said. "I always include a paragraph about Eddie and his work when we ship the rosaries out to the missions."

"Blessing" is a word that Jeanette also uses about her son, who lives with her and her husband, Julian, a retired farmer.

"He’s no different from any other handicapped person," she told The Catholic Post, "but maybe he’s more blessed because of the people who have been put into his life."

Among those special people are their neighbors in Geneseo and Port Byron, Ill., where the DePauws farmed; the Rosary Makers; and the people at Abilities Plus, Inc. in Kewanee, Ill., which provides services to children and adults with disabilities in Henry, Stark and Bureau counties. Eddie goes there three days a week.

One of Eddie’s gifts is his ability to connect with and remember the people he has met, she said, noting that when he was in school they used to say, "the superintendent is as good as the custodian to Eddie."

"When we go to church we sit in the back pew because he makes Mass a social event," according to Jeanette, who brought Eddie to the Special Persons Encounter Christ program at St. Malachy’s even when they lived in Port Byron. She taught in the program for several years.

What’s important to the DePauws, however, is that they just try to live life each day as the Lord wants them to.

"Bloom where you’re planted," Jeanette said. "That’s the same whether you’re handicapped or not."


Rhonda said...

Yay for rosary makers! I think the people at Rosary Army would be proud of Eddie. ( I made a comment over at your Myspace blog about Rosary Army, a Catholic ministry that makes & gives away twine rosaries with metal crucifixes. They have a very popular, award winning podcast about their Catholic faith, ministry & family. You should check out their website and start making twine rosaries, Father!

Brian Brady said...

Eddie is the perfect example of how God has a plan for everyone; we just need to pray and find out what it is.

When we do...amazing things can happen.