By Peter Finney Jr., Clarion Herald
Paul West, a 1979 graduate of Jesuit High School, admittedly had not prayed the rosary much, but about two years ago, he was on his knees with the kind of problems many people have – how to meet financial obligations, such as paying for college tuition for a relative.
“I was in a small business, just trying to make ends meet, and I got on my knees and prayed to Mary,” said West, who has an engineering and financial services background.
While traveling on business, he came across an image of the Blessed Mother he had never seen before – Our Lady of Guadalupe. Then, when he was in Baton Rouge, he walked into Our Lady of Mercy Church and saw the same image.
West asked an elderly woman praying inside the church to tell him more about the image.
“It was a big, old picture, so I just knew it was a saint,” West said. “The lady was sitting there with her rosary beads. She said, ‘Oh, that’s greater than a saint. That’s our Blessed Mother, the patron saint of North America.’”
West said his business picked up, and as an expression of gratitude, he asked Mary what he could do.
After returning to New Orleans on a late flight one night, he turned on the television and at 3 a.m. heard a priest encouraging men to pray the rosary.
“I got on my knees at that moment and told Mary, ‘If this is what you want me to do, I didn’t really know how to pray the rosary,’” West said. “The feeling came over me – ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get you some help.’”
Over the next several days, West explained his spiritual encounters to several friends – “I know they were going to think I was crazy” – and they decided to gather regularly, about twice a month, to recite the rosary.
They decided to formalize a bigger event, and on Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. at St. Louis Cathedral, the fledgling Mens’ Rosary Event – “Men Praying the Rosary” – will be held. It is sponsored by the Willwoods Community.
In addition to West, some of the group’s original members are Pat Veters, Claude Kelly, Ron Yager, Tod Smith and Gerard Johnson.
“We thought, what if we could get at least 100 men together to do the rosary, and what if we made it once a year and tried to make it benefit a charity?” West said.
The first rosary at the cathedral will benefit the St. Ann Shrine and Grotto on Ursulines Avenue in New Orleans, which is in need of about $15,000 of repairs.
West said women and children are also invited to the Dec. 10 prayer service, which will include devotional music written for the occasion.
The rosary also will be filmed for showing on YouTube, he said. The program will be streamed live on thedailymass.com website.
West said even men of the Muslim faith have participated in the rosary group out of respect for Mary.
For more information, contact West at (412) 680-7067.