Making festively colored rosaries for service members at home and abroad brings peace to Jean Ross of Beaufort.
"Any time I make a rosary I say, 'Thank you, Lord Jesus, for helping our military,' " Ross said as she strung 59 red, white and blue beads onto a white cord.
Ross is among a group known as "The Rosary Makers" who meet each Tuesday at St. Peter Catholic Church on Lady's Island to make rosaries, a sacred string of beads used to assist in prayer. A different prayer is said as each bead is touched.
The colorful rosary beads are placed on a small altar inside the front door of the main church. Church members and visitors are invited to take a rosary to be blessed, and give them to someone who might need one, especially to those serving their country. A sign on the altar asks: "Please pray for the members of the Armed Forces."
The altar also holds a book in which visitors can request a prayer for those in harm's way.
Josephine Duffy of Beaufort has led The Rosary Makers group for more than 20 years.
"I know, as we are making them, we get blessed for doing it because we are also helping other people to say the rosary and that brings them closer to God," Duffy said.
Ross finds making the rosaries relaxing.
"It just puts you at ease," she said. "If anything bothers me, I just make rosary beads. It just calms me; that is just the mystery of the rosary."
It took Ross about two hours to make her first rosary when she started about seven years ago. She can now make one in about 20 minutes. "When making them, sometimes you pray," she said. "It is very soothing. I love it. I enjoy it."
Rosaries surround the ladies even at home to allow for prayer at any time or place. They carry them in their purses. And in their houses the beads hang on every doorknob for safety and on their lamps.
"I put them on my lampshades ... they fit perfectly. And I hang them on the side of my dresser mirror. We all have them in our cars," said Lorena Bennett of Beaufort, a longtime member of The Rosary Makers. "You feel like you get a blessing when you make a rosary."
Ross -- who prays the rosary often -- even tops her Christmas gifts with the beads, instead of a bow.
Those serving in the military are remembered in the church by more than just the handmade patriotically colored beads. Each Sunday, the church prays for them.
The choice of bead color is determined by their use. Camouflage colors, for instance, are used for those in battle and those who are training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. The group uses more brightly colored beads of yellow and green for missions all over the world, including China and Guatemala. Right now the group is working on 200 rosaries that are needed for a September mission trip to Russia, Duffy said.
Rosaries and prayer are for all people, Ross said.
"You don't have to be Catholic to say the rosary and pray: 'Our Father who art in heaven,'" she said. "The rosary is a powerful tool."