An archdiocesan agency serving vulnerable women is looking to lift its clients’ spirits, one rosary bead at a time – and you can help.
Next month, Catholic Social Services (CSS) will host an annual gathering at Malvern Retreat House for some 125 residents of the agency’s Women of Hope and Mercy Hospice programs, both of which support women experiencing homelessness, addiction and mental health challenges.
The overnight retreat will feature prayer, reflection and fellowship, and among the items organizers plan to give participants are rosaries, said Amy Stoner, CSS’s director of community-based and homelessness services.
“Some who are attending are Catholic, and some are not – but all are drawn to the rosary,” she said. “It’s a sense of comfort. I’ve seen many, many times the attraction of our clients to the rosary and to religious medals.”
That reassurance is even more vital since “all of the women who will be there at the retreat are struggling with something,” she said.
Stoner has put out a call for donations of rosaries, especially sets that have a particular meaning for the giver.
“A lot of people have rosaries given to them from very special people, or that they purchased at very special places,” she said. “They could certainly go out and buy rosaries for the women, but I think it would be more powerful if they gave them away, as a kind of sacrifice, knowing that somebody receiving it really needed it.”
Along with the rosaries, Stoner is inviting donors — who can contact her via email — to include “messages of hope” for the retreat participants.
“Any little notecard that says ‘I’m praying for you; I hope you find comfort with this rosary” will help, she said, adding that donors are also welcome to share any “personal stories behind the rosaries” donated.
For her clients, the rosaries point to “a longing” for “the opportunity to get closer to Jesus,” said Stoner.
She and her colleagues are grateful to accompany the women on that journey.
“We’re Catholic, and we continue to share our faith,” said Stoner.
To donate rosaries and messages of encouragement for Catholic Social Services (CSS) clients, contact Amy Stoner, director of CSS community-based and homelessness services, by email.
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