Victor-ious in Faith

I love themes. Maybe that's why I tend to receive specially designated Church years seriously, and with a smile. I remember the Marian Year, the three preparatory years leading up to the Great Jubilee, the Year for Priests, and the Year of the Eucharist. At least for me, those proclamations, encyclicals, and events did what they were intended to do. They brought my attention to a particular aspect of Catholic belief, and drew me into the shared reflection of the universal Church.

In a way similar to the 40 days of Lent, this Year of Faith will challenge us to study, pray, and live more deeply what we have received through grace. There will be talks, courses, missions, books, music, prayer gatherings, retreats, and a host of other offerings aimed at strengthening the faith we have and growing in our understanding of it. Our parishes will provide more opportunities to engage what the Church teaches and why. And at the diocesan level there'll be even more buzz about the "new evangelization," and a drive to develop new ways to share our faith with others.

All of these initiatives are worthwhile. But what will happen when the Year of Faith ends? How can we stretch it into more than just 13 months? How can our faith become the substance of our lives, not just for this year, but for the rest of our lives? The answer is simple, but it requires of us a kind of stamina not many of us practice any more or even know how to. It's the kind we used to call self-discipline.

Enter Victor. Although I haven't met him, someone else was good enough to tell me his story. In 1981, while working as a security guard in a Florida apartment building, Victor noticed a rosary hanging out of one of the resident's pockets. When he asked about it, George told him that he had made the rosary -- and many more of them -- for the missions. He offered to teach Victor how, and Victor accepted the offer.

Because Victor has an aptitude for all things mechanical, using pliers to manipulate the small metal links came naturally, and he enjoyed doing it. When George saw how quickly Victor took to the process he said something rather memorable: "Our Lady has tapped you on the back, Victor. You're going to do this for the rest of your life."

At 97, Victor is still making rosaries. That is how he has spent 10 to 12 hours a week for the last thirty-two years. In the beginning, George would mail their rosaries to local universities and they would be shipped out to the missions from there. Now, Victor sends them to Stonehill College, and they are distributed to missions across the United States and the world. He admits that he used to watch television while making them, but stopped when he realized that he was making too many mistakes.

Victor began counting the rosaries as he made them soon after he began. He estimates that over the years he has made more than 30,000! Victor has a brother who is a retired member of the Holy Cross. Now he is making rosaries, too. When asked why he does it, Victor says that he might as well, because otherwise he'd just spend his free time watching TV or looking out the window. "Someone is getting the benefit of it, and that's the way I look at it. Without faith," he says, "there is nothing."

Nothing indeed. As I see it, both the Church and the world could use a lot more Victors. I just hope the Year of Faith helps everyone one of us become more like him: ready for the long haul, prepared for a lifetime -- and not just a year -- of faith.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an inspirational author, speaker, musician and serves as an Associate Children's Editor at Pauline Books and Media.