By Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer | Published April 21, 2015
Last Saturday my wife and I joined David and Mary Waters for their weekly rosary ministry with the seniors at St. George Village in Roswell. They usually begin at 10:30 a.m., but David was running a little late this particular morning. “Where is David?” asked Pat Swenson, the resident who always occupies the seat to David’s right as he leads the rosary. “He’s upstairs gathering a few more residents. He should be here very shortly,” said his wife Mary.
A few minutes later David showed up and he rendered an apology to the group seated around the table for his tardiness. He had stopped to look in on one of the residents who was unable to attend, but what really held him up was his encounter with the family of Virginia Stearns. When David went by Virginia’s room to roll her downstairs for the rosary, her family informed him that she had died earlier that morning. David, in turn, shared with the family how Virginia was a dedicated participant during the Saturday morning rosary. David said the family told him that Virginia died with her rosary in her hand.
The weekly gathering of 10-12 seniors who pray the rosary is a tight alliance of women and men, which include septuagenarians, octogenarians, nonagenarians and a centenarian. When somebody is absent or missing, it doesn’t go unnoticed. David assured the participants that Virginia was with the risen Christ, and they would include her among the other prayers they were placing before God that day.
I met Virginia Stearns last November when I was photographing for Andrew Nelson’s story, “Despite frailties, seniors come to pray rosary.” She was seated in a wheelchair, holding her rosary and covered in maroon-colored shawl. At one point I went around the table to identify people for the photo caption. When I came to Virginia I could kind of tell she was one of the gregarious members of the group. She told me she was a native of Detroit, Michigan. She also said she was born on the July 4th holiday in 1921. What Virginia told me after that made me laugh and I’ll never forget it. “My dad said when I was born, I came in with a bang and I’ve been shooting off at the mouth ever since,” she said.
You’ll be missed at the table for the rosary, Virginia. May your soul and all the souls of the faithfully departed rest in peace.
O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life. Grant, we beseech Thee, that by meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.