TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Four hours a month, a group of six women meet in the Tinker Air Force Base Chapel, talking, laughing and beading rosaries.
Some are spouses of retired Airmen, others have other family who serve. They talk, laugh and pray as they spend hours threading strings through bead after bead, producing 500 to 700 rosaries each meeting.
Formed in the early 1990s, the Catholic Women of the Chapel Rosary Guild produce the rosaries that are sent with Catholic Tinker AFB Airmen on deployments.
“The rosary is really important to us as Catholics, so being able to provide them with a rosary (provides) them that weapon of their faith to take wherever it is they are going,” Catholic Parish Coordinator Janet Lujan said.
“For us, the rosary is that first defensive weapon, (it) ensures our faith.”
Rosaries made by the group are also used when children take their first communion at Tinker AFB and have been distributed to Fort Sill and Barksdale Air Force Base.
They are also distributed to Catholic schools and churches in and around Oklahoma City, as well as to Mercy Hospital. One priest at Mercy Hospital takes an annual trip to Uganda, taking about 700 rosaries made by the group to distribute.
Evelyn Cutaran, organizer for the group, said that, as well as meeting a need by making the rosaries, the group provides support for each other, especially through difficult times such as spouses being deployed.
“Military life is hard … I know sometimes it gets lonesome out there.It connects you with other people.”
“It strengthens your faith and gives you exposure to other ladies.”
Lujan said the chapel provides funding for the group to buy supplies for the rosaries, space for them to meet and storage for the materials and rosaries before they are sent out.
As the women talk and enjoy each other’s company during their meetings, they also pray over each rosary and for the person it is going to.
“I just think the women have been amazing. They are very diligent. They pray when they’re making all these rosaries … It’s meaningful,” Lujan said.
While the rosary is one small part of what an Airman might carry while going on a deployment, it can be very important for their spiritual fitness, one of the pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness.
“Because they’re away from home and family, we want to make sure that their spiritual (fitness) is taken care of, and that’s one way we can be able to provide for them. And for them to know we are here praying for them as well,” Lujan said.