Reaches 700th Rosary Milestone

EL CENTRO – In a beautifully adorned Prayer Room somewhere in El Centro, former El Centro Police Chief Eddie Madueño toils away in a labor of love.

“Once I get this one I’m home free,” Madueño said, carefully fashioning the lynchpin “pretzel knot” on what would become the rosary made for EWTN’s Fr. Larry Richards the day of the JP2 Radio’s Benefit Dinner. “This was the hardest part, now it’s just really putting on the beads.”

This was the scene at Madueño’s home as he reached a milestone three and a half years in the making as he had just finished completing his 500th hand-made rosary. According to friends, this rosary making apostolate has in some way touched the lives of each person who has received one.

Madueño – now retired after serving 33 years with the El Centro Police Department and 3.5 years as El Centro’s Chief of Police – has found a new calling in spreading devotion and his love of the holy rosary. He does this through hand-crafting large, tough, rosaries made from paracord, (cord heavily used in military parachutes), plastic beads and metal crucifixes. He then gives the completed rosaries away to anyone, he feels, can benefit from having a specially prayed over rosary.

“Sometimes I gift people the rosary without their knowledge (of me making it for them),” Madueño said. “I just pray on it and I make one. Other times I just tell them.”

Madueño said this hand-crafted rosary apostolate came about as he was gifted a “Rugged Rosary” from a co-worker in the department for Christmas one year. It was this rosary that inspired Madueño to conduct enough research to teach himself how to make his version of paracord rosaries.

Madueño, who made his first rosary in April 2016, originally started making them for his fellow Catholic men in the Cursillo movement until they caught the eye of his wife, Margie. As per her request, Madueño made his “manly rosary” more feminine by “blinging it out,” “and she loved it,” he said.

Every rosary that Madueño makes is sprinkled with Holy Water, prayed over, made with the person it is being made for in-mind as it’s being made and is blessed by a Catholic priest. They are made in the person’s favorite colors and with a medal of a saint that the person requested or who may be pertinent to them. The rosaries also come complete with a hand-written note which includes the date the rosary was made, date it was blessed, a quote from the Holy Bible and/or a quote from a Saint on the importance of praying the rosary, and encouragement to pray the rosary for the holy souls in purgatory.

Friends and fellow “Cursillistas” agree that what makes these rosaries special is this special care, the prayers, intentions and customization that goes into each rosary their friend Eddie makes.

“There is nothing more intimate and more special than a rosary that was created just for you, that was prayed on for you,” El Centro Catholic parishioner Jeanette Montaño said in an interview.

“The Holy Spirit is working on (Eddie), through him on that rosary, through every bead, and it’s covered with Jesus’s Precious Blood and our Blessed Mother’s mantle,” she said, “and then he gives it to you. So by the time it gets into your hands you feel it. It’s different.”

These rosaries, Montaño said, become blessings to the people who receive them.

“One that is the most impactful things is how he puts rosaries together for people that we hardly even know…for people that we have an opportunity to pray over and who are, in that moment, dedicating their lives to God and opening their hearts to Jesus for the first time,” she said.

Montaño cited the story of her dearly departed friend, Karina Lopez of Calexico, who passed away from stomach cancer two years ago.

“I was able to pray the rosary by her bedside…I had my wooden rosary in my hand that Eddie had made me and she was in her last hours. She was holding the rosary that he made for her – a light blue one – when I saw her mom was holding her hand on the other side of the bed I noticed that her mom didn’t have one, I felt compelled to give her my rosary (so I did.)” Montaño said.

”I told Eddie, ‘I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist, I had to give it to her,’ and Eddie said, ‘It’s okay, it’s okay, I’ll make you another one.’ So he made me one that was light blue one like (Karina’s),” she said. “And that one, to me – every time that I see it, every time I think about it, every time I pray with it – reminds me of (Karina).”

Montaño, whose immediate family has at least one rosary each and has more than a few of her own, said that Eddie is being used by God in a special way, stating that these rosaries are a form of “divine intervention.”

“God is blessing every human being that touches one of those rosaries, and it’s not like the rosaries that you buy at a store. They each represent something very intimate,” Montaño said.

“I don’t think (Eddie) realizes the power behind it. I know he knows that it’s a weapon and he’s starting to see the magnitude of it but we’ve seen it for a very long time,” she said.

Victor Jaime, who like Madueño is a JP2 Radio volunteer and a past Grand Knight of El Centro’s Cristo Rey Council Knights of Columbus, agreed that “Eddie’s Rosaries” mean a lot to his extended family.

Jaime said a rosary that was made by Madueño for his recently deceased nephew, Andrew Tompkins of Alpine, was something that Andrew treasured all throughout his chemotherapy treatments.

“A lot of my family has rosaries from Eddie but I know what it meant to Andrew,” Jaime said in an interview. “He just lit up when I gave it to him; he thought it was absolutely beautiful and it was specially made for him. It was with him in each hospital stay, each treatment he went to, it was with his remains until they interned him, then (his mother Diana, Jaime’s cousin) took it with her.”

Both Jaime and Madueño said the full version of Andrew Tompkins’s story – complete with the use of Madueño’s custom rosary by Andrew and it becoming a keepsake for his mother after his death – brought a tears to many eyes at the men’s retreat where the priest was present who led the rosary at Tompkins’s Wake.

“I think with Eddie it validated his calling,” Jaime said of Madueño. “It does touch lives, and you never know where that rosary is going to bring peace to families in need. Those rosaries are important.”

But Madueño does not create these rosaries for accolades, money or just as a hobby; he sees it as a blessing. He has been blessed many times over by having provided rosaries to people like Former First Lay Melania Trump, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Fr. Donald Calloway and Fr. Wade Menezes.

“I hope they understand that I made it through this process…and the biggest way it will bring them blessings is if they pray it,” Madueño said. “It comes with Christian love, prayer, and it’s not mean to be jewelry or decorations, they’re something to be prayed and I’m hoping they use it for that.”

“I do it because it’s a blessing,” Madueño said. “I never regret it. I love it.”