by Katie Peterson
Special to The Leaven
LEAVENWORTH — One hundred handmade shadow-box rosaries later, David Peterson is still enjoying one of his favorite hobbies.
“Watching people at church, how they act, how they raise their children and how well they’re attentive of their religion — it’s inspiring,” said Peterson.
“So it’s a gift that I make just to let them know that their faith is appreciated,” he said.
Peterson makes each rosary by hand, then gives them to parishioners at Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph Church in Leavenworth as a surprise.
He made his first in 1983 as a gift to his maternal grandmother, Margaret Brite, after she suffered a heart attack.
“I felt like I wanted to do something for her, and I felt like it was something she would appreciate and like,” said Peterson.
The idea to make the rosary came to him when he remembered the passing of his paternal grandmother, Louise Peterson, in 1976.
“My aunts made her a rosary out of silk flowers that draped her casket,” he said. “And it was with that image that I was able to come up with a way to make the flowers for the rosaries.
“It was self-taught.”
Peterson began giving his rosaries away regularly in 2000.
“While in church one night, I was upset and asked the Blessed Mother for her intercession to get through it,” said Peterson. “And shortly after that, it was as though someone hugged me from behind and a calm came completely over me.”
“It felt like the Blessed Mother embraced me,” he added.
Peterson has always had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother, particularly because he and his wife Carol suffered three miscarriages.
He believes it was through Mary’s intercession that they were able to have two children.
Sharing the gift of the rosary, therefore, is a way to honor Mary.
Vita Brown is one parishioner who Peterson surprised with a rosary.
“I felt very honored and was really surprised that he noticed how I looked and acted when I worship Our Lord,” said Brown. “I was teary-eyed and could not believe that he chose such a gift for me and my home, made from his skilled hands.”
“It hangs in the living room, in a place of honor,” she concluded. “It’s a blessing hanging in my home, and I will always cherish it.”
Peterson makes each flower with two different colored materials and cuts them into squares. He then punches a hole in the center, glues in the stamens and stiffens the material.
Once it dries, he cuts out each flower and makes the petal using two flowers of each color and attaches them to the wire, which holds it to the board.
When the rosary is put together on the board, Peterson attaches two separate inscriptions to the board — the Hail Mary and often the Sign of the Cross or custom writing for special occasions.
Making over 100 rosaries was a feat that, just a year ago, Peterson wasn’t sure he’d accomplish.
An accident when he was 3 years old that broke his finger continued to affect him throughout life. But early last year, a surgery to correct it turned out to be just what he needed to continue his ministry.
“Now the finger doesn’t really get in the way when I use the scissors,” said Peterson. “So it actually ended up being more of a blessing.
“Now I feel great about it and I’m glad I’m back to making them.”