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Rosaries help pay for student scholarships
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St. Anthony of Padua School teacher Carolyn Cano, left, makes cord rosaries while selling them at the recent holiday salad luncheon and craft fair at the school. Proceeds from the sale of the rosaries, at $10 apiece, go to students scholarships. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

Carolyn Cano has a mission. You can call it Rosaries for Students’ Scholarships.

She does not have a formal or official name for what she is doing. She has been making the rosaries out of twine for roughly two years.  Colorful ones as bright and vivid as the blinding hues of a startlingly sharp rainbow on a crisp day right after a shower.

And she’s selling them for $10 apiece. But none of the proceeds goes into her pocket. It goes to help with scholarships for the students of St. Anthony of Padua School where she is the sixth-grade class teacher. She has also taught fourth grade.

Last year alone, Cano sold $1,600 worth of the handmade rosaries, all of which went to tuition assistance. Some of them were sold at the school office. Others were purchased by friends and acquaintances. She sold some of at the recent holiday salad luncheon and craft fair where prospective buyers also had an opportunity to see how the prayer beads are made.

Last year, she started a Rosary Club on campus. About eight students joined. Now, there are 10 kids who are learning how to make the rosaries. The group meets about half an hour each week at school.

While boredom is a situation that often has a negative connotation, it wasn’t the case when Cano had an attack of ennui after she finished studying for her master’s degree. It was actually out of that boredom that gave birth to the making of the Divine Twine into prayer beads called rosaries. Some of her earlier finished prayer beads were sent to friends in Indianapolis, Florida, Merced and other places.

Cano started making the rosaries in July of 2012 and “it’s been growing strong ever since,” she said. She buys the materials out of her own pocket from Oriental Trading Company.

It was parishioner Deborah Grecco who taught Cano how to make the rosaries. That was a few years ago. Grecco, who coordinates the CCD program at St. Joseph’s Parish in Modesto, in turn learned the craft years ago when she and her children attended the five-day summer retreats at the Militia of the Immaculata for youth and young adults in Oregon.

“I learned it from people at the retreat. They are called cord rosaries. We’d always make these rosaries with the kids; we taught the kids how to make them. It was a way to keep the young people to pray the rosary,” explained Grecco.

It takes about 45 minutes to finish one rosary, she added.

When she started doing it in 2002, she made red, white and blue rosaries “to pray for the country,” she said.

Later, she made them in the color of her children’s sports teams. And, “I’d make them for my catechism kis.”

While battling cancer years ago, making the cord rosaries became a prayer and a way of coping as well.

Cano’s colorful rosaries can be purchased at the St. Anthony School office during office hours. The school is located on the corner of Fremont Avenue and Sutter Streets.