Photo by Cindy Klepper.
Originally published March 16, 2009
Once a month, a group of women gathers at St. Mary Catholic Church.
They've been doing it for 50 years - probably longer.
"It's possible it was started in the early 1950s," says Dana Flora, president of the St. Mary Rosary Sodality, but she's not sure exactly when it was organized.
The name "sodality" might puzzle some, but it's actually a fairly common term for describing a lay organization in the Roman Catholic Church with a devotional or charitable purpose.
"It's the same thing as a society," Flora explains.
And the Rosary Sodality at St. Mary Church has both a devotional purpose and a charitable purpose.
"We usually say the rosary, or part of a rosary," Flora explains, referring to a series of prayers. "We try to be supportive to each other. And we provide spiritual, charitable and social support to all parishioners."
Each of the monthly meetings ends with refreshments and, Flora says, "That's a real social time."
The Rosary Sodality has two levels of members, she says. Every woman who is a member of the parish is automatically a member of the Rosary Sodality, but many of those women are not active in the organization. Then, Flora says, there are members who elect to pay the $5-a-year dues and become active with Rosary Sodality programs. Paid membership currently stands at 141.
Even though the sodality is a women's organization, Flora says, "we actually have some men who pay dues, usually around a half-dozen."
Many of those men, she says, pay dues in memory of their deceased wives.
"My dad's been paying for years," Flora says. "He says it's just helping out the church."
Sodality members do their share of helping out. They sponsor an Easter egg hunt each year for parish children; clean the church, offer financial support to Scout troops, the Open Door, Love I.N.C., and Right to Life; sponsor receptions for confirmation classes at both Catholic parishes in Huntington; and help pay parish fuel costs.
The sodality has carpeted much of the priests' home, made a major contribution to the refurbishing of the parish convent and helps the parish with fuel costs.
"We usually raise several thousand a year to help the parish," Flora says.
Members provide funeral dinners for parishioners and deliver Christmas fruit baskets to shut-ins and parishioners who have lost spouses in the preceding year.
Major fundraisers are a fish fry, held the first Friday in May each year, and the Snowflake Bazaar, held annually on the first Saturday in November.
The Rosary Sodality is something women of the church grow into, Flora says.
"We have some members who are probably in their late 30s or early 40s who regularly come, up to some who are 80 or so," she says. "The older they get, the better they are at attending.
"Since I've gotten involved, I've made a lot of friends. I feel more a part of the church."