Kenosha Man redesigns the Rosary

Gary Hughes, who works in a Kenosha jewelry store, has designed and patented a rosary with a loop system that allows a person to say prayers bead by bead without the crucifix getting in the way.

P r a y e r b e a d s
Nov. 8, 2008
Jeweler designs Rosary Lariat
KAREN MAHONEY Kenosha News correspondent

Read & React

Older Roman Catholics can remember as children kneeling together with the rest of their family members to pray the rosary every evening after supper or before bedtime.

For Kenosha jeweler Gary Hughes, some of his fondest memories are of his mother leading the family rosary in the evenings or during car trips.

“My mom was very much into the Blessed Mother, and we often prayed for her to keep us safe while driving,” he said. “It was just her and us kids, and we always prayed a daily rosary.”

The rosary is a Catholic devotional practice, a series of repeated prayers kept track of on a chain of beads divided into “decades.” When he was a young adult, Hughes did not regularly pray the rosary, but then he resumed his devotion and has prayed a daily rosary for years. He is now 58, lives in Old Mill Creek, Ill., and is a member of St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church in Antioch, Ill.

Hughes has more than 28 years in the jewelry business and works at Erica’s Fine Jewelry in Kenosha. He learned to use the downtime between customers to pray a rosary or chaplet, a single decade of beads attached to a crucifix and strand of beads.

“I always kept my chaplet in the pocket of my suit jacket, and every time I finished 10 “Hail Mary” prayers, the crucifix got in the way,” he said. “I thought it would be nice to find a way to keep on saying the rest of the decades so I didn’t have to flip the crucifix over.”

Mulling the idea for a time, he settled on a bail, or loop, attached to the crucifix so the chaplet or rosary could pass through. An additional metal bead that looks and feels different from the others, makes it easy to know without seeing that the prayers are finished. At first, Hughes planned to create the rosary and chaplet for his own personal use, but then he remembered Pope John Paul II trying to renew interest in the rosary.

The Roman Catholic pontiff, who called the rosary his “favorite prayer,” marked the start of the 25th year of his reign by issuing the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae on the Most Holy Rosary and proclaimed October 2002 to October 2003 the Year of the Holy Rosary.

The pope urged parents to teach the rosary to their children, and he urged families to pray the rosary together to help counter the “forces of disintegration on both the ideological and practical planes” that he said threaten the family.

“I read that Pope Benedict XVI was continuing on the quest and thought it might be a good thing to market,” Hughes said. “I thought that if people liked it, it might make them buy a rosary again and perhaps say it more often. Maybe they wouldn’t say it forever, but maybe more would say it and continue to say it.”

Perfecting his design, Hughes began the copywriting and patent process. Seven months later, he earned his copyright and utility patent for Prayer Beads Lariat.

“This opens the door for creating prayer beads for other faiths,” Hughes said, adding, “but my focus is on the rosary because that is what I pray and what I feel that God gave me to do.”

Hughes also has created a special design that he hopes to present to Pope Benedict XVI.

“I am trying to find the best way to present it to him,” Hughes said. “Ideally, I would like to see him and deliver it personally. My ideal scenario would be an audience with him. It might not happen, but at least I would like to get the correct address to mail it to him so that I know he will receive it.”

Financially, Hughes is hopeful that interest in the handmade and custom made Rosary Lariat is high, but his goals are not solely to better his own life. Hughes, who spends nearly all his free time volunteering for others and for his parish, wants to better the lives of people in the broader community.

“I volunteer as a driver for the American Cancer Society and would like to do it every day,” he said. “Ideally, I would like to see the same person through all the weeks of their chemotherapy treatments. I really want to be able to do that, and unless I am financially secure, I am unable to make that my full-time job.”

Prices of the Rosary Lariat range from $60 to $175. The price depends on the beads or stones used. Designs can be seen and purchased at Erica’s Fine Jewelry, 4625 75th St.

For more information, call Gary Hughes at (847) 265-3704.

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