“There is nothing more intimate and more special than a rosary that was created just for you, that was prayed on for you,”
Eddie MaduenoRosary Maker N Chief
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), acrylic 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 requested by the person or a saint which may be pertinent to them. Each rosary also comes complete with a personalized 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 of 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.
In one of many stories regarding “Eddie’s Rosaries,” Montaño cited the story of her dearly departed friend, Karina Lopez of Calexico, who passed away from stomach cancer two years ago. Montaño said as she was praying at her friend’s beside along with Lopez’s mother, her friend Karina held a light blue rosary that Madueño made for her. It was then Montaño felt compelled to give Lopez’s mother her hand-made wooden rosary, which Madueño had also made, as she noticed her friend’s mother didn’t have a rosary with her at the bedside.
“I told Eddie, ‘I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist, I had to give it to her,’” Montaَño continued, “and Eddie said, ‘It’s okay, it’s okay, I’ll make you another one.’ So he made me one that was light blue like (Karina’s). 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, who owns more than a few of her own of Eddie’s Rosaries and whose immediate family has at least one rosary each, said that Eddie is being used by God in a special way, stating that these rosaries are a form of “divine intervention.”
“We’ve had so many miracles happen I regret not writing them all down because I really think we can put together a book called ‘The Miracles of the Rosary’ because we have so many, and I mean (those that have happened) here in the Imperial Valley,” Montaño said. “But I think for people to know what happens through these rosaries, the ones that were made by (Eddie), is amazing.”
“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,” she said. “They each represent something very intimate. 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.”
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 before passing from this life at 21 years of age.
“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 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 (for) Eddie, it validated his calling,” Jaime said. “It does touch lives, and you never know where that rosary is going to bring peace to families in need. Those rosaries are important.”
Montaño said it is fitting that Madueno’s 500th rosary ended up being made during October, which is the Month of the Rosary, and that the first article written about Madueño’s rosary apostolate would be coming out on record around All Souls’ Day.
“What (Eddie) promotes is that we pray for the souls in Purgatory because there are so many,” Montaño said. “It’s really hard to get into heaven, but imagine if all of us were to pray for souls every single day through the power of the rosary? My Goodness, a lot of souls would stop suffering; souls would be showered with graces,” she said.
Perhaps it is those graces that Madueño sees “as a blessing” to others, as he does not ask for money or accolades, nor does he see his rosary making as merely a hobby.
“I hope they understand that I made it through this process (of prayer)…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 meant 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 of his apostolate. “I never regret it. I love it.”
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