Port St. Lucie | Father Antony Lopez was ordained a priest in the Order of Discalced Carmelites in India in 1996. His first assignment after his ordination, was as a mission priest in Andha Pradesh, India. In 2015, he was transferred to the United States to St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Port St. Lucie, where he serves presently as the parochial vicar.
Father Lopez’s love for the Catholic faith stems back to his home village of Pulluvila, in the state of Kerala, India.
“The people of my parish called me ‘little priest’ wherever I went. I would always run to get in the first row at the church. I wanted to see the reflection of light shining on the Blessed Sacrament when it was lifted up by the priest,” Father Lopez said.
His parents lead by example, and taught Father Lopez and his eight brothers and sisters to pray the rosary, attend daily Mass, and wear the Carmelite scapular. Father Lopez attributes passing his 10th grade exam, a necessary requirement to enter the seminary, to the intercession of St. Joseph.
“I always keep St. Joseph with me and wear my scapular to protect me and keep me spiritual and humble.”
In India, every Catholic child is presented with a rosary and a scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel at the time of baptism. At their first holy Communion, communicants are again given a rosary and a scapular. As a result of this frequent practice, there is a huge need for rosaries and scapulars in Father Lopez’s home country.
To fill that need, parishioners at St. Bernadette Catholic Church have formed a new ministry inspired by Father Lopez’s Indian tradition. Parishioners make their own rosaries to be distributed to the sick, poor and missions in India and elsewhere. Cathy Aiello, leader of the rosary making ministry at St. Bernadette Parish, explained that Father Lopez’s missions are always in need of rosaries, which they make from donations of old jewelry and beads.
Cindy Martin, a fellow rosary maker said, “I give rosaries to the sick to give them the opportunity to pray.” The ministry’s newest rosary maker is 10-year-old Madalyn McGarry, who also sings in the church choir. “I’m excited to learn how to make rosaries for the church,” she said.
Despite only being formed a year ago, the rosary making ministry is thriving. “I send rosaries to my mission in Andrha Pradesh and to other missions,” Father Lopez said. “I always put them in the adoration chapel and every time I check, I see the rosaries are gone. People are, indeed, praying the rosary.”
The rosary making ministry is accepting donations of old jewelry and beads, as well as assistance in assembling and distributing the rosaries. For more information, contact Cathy Aiello at 732-600-4294.