On February 24, 2022, Russia sent its troops to invade Ukraine. The whole world watched as the broadcasters speculated about the number of hours it would take for Russia to defeat its smaller neighbor.
A Nation on the Edge of Disaster…
Then the Ukrainians did something that no one expected. They resisted the Russian attack that eventually fell apart.
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The world’s reporters were baffled by the turn of events. How could the smaller nation hold Russia at bay? The pundits assured their audiences that Russia had one of the biggest and best armies in the world. On the other hand, Ukraine was small, divided and unprepared for the challenge.
Americans and Europeans later delivered weapons worth billions of dollars to Ukraine—but on February 24, Ukraine stood alone, fighting a seemingly hopeless battle.
…And A Prayer Group in San Antonio
Shannon Haase of San Antonio, Texas, was one of many whose hearts went out to the Ukrainians. She was unable to send them modern weapons. However, she sent one of the most ancient spiritual weapons—Our Lady’s Rosary.
Shannon is part of a prayer group that makes rosaries to give away. Usually, they are handed out one-by-one or placed in a basket in the back of parish churches for those who want one. Often, there will be several on a hook in perpetual adoration chapels for those visitors without one.
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Shannon had something much larger in mind. She wanted to send rosaries to large numbers of Ukrainians. After all, it would surely take a miracle for Ukraine to hold out. Praying the Rosary has contributed to many miracles in the past. Maybe it would save Ukraine in its hour of need.
Our Lady of Victory
Indeed, the story of the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 was a case of victory against a greater Muslim force. Pope Saint Pius V asked all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory. Our Lady answered by granting victocy to the navy of the Holy League of Spain, Venice and the Pope. Pius V named October 7, the anniversary of the battle, as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory.
Undeterred by the obstacles, the prayer group made thousands of rosaries for the people of Ukraine. However, having made the rosaries, they had no way to transport them to a war zone half a world away.
The answer lay in Jersey City, New Jersey, at the headquarters of Goya Foods, Inc.
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The family-owned company markets Spanish-inspired foods in the United States, Latin America and Europe. Additionally, it sends its products into areas ravaged by hurricanes. The firm also provided two million pounds of food for U.S. and Puerto Rican food banks to meet the Covid pandemic’s challenges.
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Goya’s President and CEO, Bob Unanue, was inspired to help after receiving a phone call and an offer of one single rosary from Shannon. The small beginning ballooned into something bigger when Mr.Unanue stepped forward and agreed to personally transport 15,000 rosaries to Poland. From there, the rosaries would join shipments of food and supplies into Ukraine.
When Mr. Unanue arrived in Poland, a local parish held a special thanksgiving Mass to receive and bless the rosaries.
“Send Us Rosaries!”
In an interview with Fox News, Mr. Unanue said, “We were given marching orders, but we really didn’t have a plan. The whole time, it was like we were being led by God. It is amazing. We get over there, and we have seven bags with 15,000 rosaries in them, and we don’t know what to do. And so, we catch up with a connection from the Knights of Columbus, and they receive a note from these Dominican fathers in Lviv, inside Ukraine, where they are being attacked, ‘We need rosaries. Send us rosaries.’”
Mr. Unanue’s crew then contacted three ex-Green Berets who were involved in extracting children from the war zone. These men took 8,000 of the rosaries to the Dominican priests. The rest went out through other channels.
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In another interview, Mr. Unanue explained his motivations and hopes.
“Darkness is the absence of light, and evil is the absence of God. With the miraculous gift of these rosaries from these beacons of light with prayer, love and hope, we will pierce the darkness and inspire the leaders of our world to reject evil and move closer to God.”
Photo Credit: © Meysam Azarneshin – stock.adobe.com