If I told you that there is a small building in Louisville that distributes more than 6.5 million rosaries a year all over the world — or more than a quarter billion rosaries since its inception in 1949 — would you believe me?
Let me tell you a short story that we believe is a modern-day miracle.
In 1949 a humble Xaverian brother by the name of Brother Sylvan Mattingly started a rosary club that today is known as Our Lady’s Rosary Makers (OLRM), which is located on Poplar Level Road.
Inspired by the message of Mary at Fatima in 1917 to pray the rosary, Brother Sylvan began to teach others to make rosaries for missions, their parishes and anyone who wanted to be close to Mary through the rosary.
During the 100th anniversary of Fatima in this calendar year, it seems the perfect time to tell the world of this rosary miracle and to encourage the world to make and pray the rosary as the Blessed Mother suggested on May 13 in 1917.
Mary was the only mother that Brother Sylvan ever knew, since he lost his mom at a very young age. Taken by Mary’s request to the three small children at Fatima, Brother Sylvan devoted his life in his late years to spread Mary’s word.
Letters from missionaries around the world began coming in daily. He realized the tremendous need for rosaries was greater than he had imagined.
Because of the wide interest that people around the country seem to have on the subject of rosary making, Brother Sylvan traveled to Denver, Detroit and several other cities and states to teach parishes how to make rosaries for missionaries throughout the world.
He had no idea that what he started would quickly grow into a country-wide apostolate with parishes, schools and rosary clubs establishing rosary guilds to make rosaries for their own needs and those of missions around the world.
Dedicated rosary makers started ordering materials from OLRM in Louisville at cost. They would then make and send hundreds and thousands of mission rosaries directly to missions throughout the world. They also sent rosaries to the OLRM office, which distributes the handmade rosaries to missions in need.
After Brother Sylvan’s sudden death in 1951, Father Bertrand Rapp, then chaplain of OLRM, picked up the mantle and began traveling the country, teaching rosary making and starting rosary clubs. He died in 2007.
Today we have more than 12,000 rosary makers supplying rosaries to people throughout the world.
The rosary continues to play an important role in prayer throughout the world. Mary’s request to “pray the rosary daily for world peace” continues to be a driving force in bringing our world back to God.
There have been a few miracles in the United States through the years. Some believe that Brother Sylvan and Our Lady’s Rosary Makers certainly fall in the category of a quiet miracle in modern times.
To that point Father Bertrand Rapp was quoted many times as saying, “Remember, we are not building a gigantic rosary factory, but trying to raise the world by the power of true love.”
To learn more about this amazing Xaverian legacy, go to olrm.org, visit us at 4611 Poplar Level Road, or email Mike Ford at email@example.com. We would love to have you come by and take a tour.
Marty Carraro and his wife, Mary Anne, have been members of St. Raphael Church for 31 years. He has six children and 12 grandchildren.