Rosaries Galore " Prayed and Made
God Calls … Bernadette Furon
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
October 20, 2022
You might say she comes by it naturally. Bernadette Furon can’t recall a time when the rosary has not been in her life.
 
“It was part of my life through my mother, who prayed it constantly,” she says. As children, she and her three brothers “never knew anything but Mass and the rosary — church, home and school, that was our life.” 
 
The family prayed a rosary every night, she says, adding that her mother prayed between six and eight rosaries each day. “She was Polish,” she says in explanation.
 
“My mother was the main one,” she adds, wistfully saying, “If I could be half the woman she was …”
Bernadette’s own daughter could lead the rosary by age 5. But Bernadette’s sharing of this powerful prayer didn’t stop with her family. Early in her 21 years at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in West Los Angeles, California, she and another mother got to know each other through their children and discovered a shared passion for their Catholic faith. They began a rosary prayer group.
 
“Those were wonderful, wonderful times,” Bernadette says, “with memories of prayer followed by socializing over coffee and cake.”
 
Today in Rockford, she has hosted a similar group every Tuesday for some 12-13 years at her home. That group began when Bernadette fell and broke her shoulder. Her sister-in-law came and prayed with her, asked another friend to come, “and it grew from there,” Bernadette says.
 
That rosary group inspired several regular participants to begin their own rosary prayer groups. Bernadette hosted an average of 16 people each week this past summer on her patio. They come and pray all four mysteries (Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious) plus a Chaplet of Divine Mercy “for all who will die this day, for mercy on their souls,” she says, noting that hour and a half of prayer always is followed by treats and beverages.
 
In 1983, Bernadette began a rosary making annual gathering under the direction of Augustinian Father Robert V. Lawrence. After his death in 1994, Bishop Arthur J. O’Neill volunteered to be the spiritual director for the group of rosary makers.
 
“Each year, he came,” she says of Bishop O’Neill. “Even when he couldn’t walk well, he still came.”
Rosary making started up again at St. Edward Parish Center on Oct. 13 after COVID-19 derailed it for two years. The 9 a.m.-3 p.m. day includes a break for Mass and lunch and, of course, to pray a rosary. 
Over the years, participants at the annual gathering have made over 700,000 rosaries, which have been gifted to parishes, the military, missionaries and others upon request.
 
Bernadette credits the Blessed Mother for the longevity of that annual effort.
 
“She really wants this to go on,” Bernadette says. “She’s there for us. We just have to say, ‘Yes, Mother, we’ll be there for you’ … she never leaves us.”
 
Every year when the work of organizing the event begins to seem to be too much, Bernadette says she tells her Blessed Mother Mary, “‘Okay, this is your party, not mine.’ … That’s how I feel every time.”
Mary has been even more uppermost in Bernadette’s mind as she grows older. She talks about the Blessed Mother’s message at Fatima to pray, including for “so many who have no one to pray for them.”
 
“The power of the Hail Mary, lately I’ve been thinking about it,” Bernadette says. “The meaning of every word is so powerful, and we say 53 of them in one rosary.”
 
That power, she adds, “has become so significant to me now.” She points to the story of Our Lady of Victory, saying, “If enough people pray, things happen. Our Lady of Victory will do the same for us.”
 
Nodding at an Our Lady of Fatima statue on her coffee table, she says, “We know she’s there for us … she’s so perfect, and to think she’s listening to us …!”
 
It is, after all, always helpful to have heavenly assistance. All her life, Bernadette Furon has known who to call upon — and how to reach her.
 
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