OLC's Altar Rosary Society gives spiritual, material support for 60 years
CHARLOTTE — The Diocese of Charlotte may be just 40 years old this year, but a group of lay women and men from Our Lady of Consolation Church in Charlotte boasts nearly 60 years together.
The parish's Altar Rosary Society, founded in the 1950s, serves both the spiritual and material support of the small congregation north of uptown Charlotte.
"We pray the rosary before every Mass, and they organize that," said Capuchin Franciscan Father Martin Schratz, pastor, in describing the primary role of the society.
The society also gathers monthly to respond to prayer requests, welcome new members and discuss their charitable works such as scholarships for single mothers.
Although the society now welcomes male members, longtime member Shirley Fowler explains that, "it is about charity and being sisters. We have grown tremendously. The youngest member is 15, and the oldest is 86. We like to give back to the church around us, for example, through the Martin de Porres ministry to feed the poor and outreach to the mentally challenged, a population who is often forgotten.
Pictured: Members of Our Lady of Consolation Church’s Altar Rosary Society, founded in the 1950s, talk with Capuchin Brother Doug Soik during a recent fundraising event. (Mary B. Worthington | Catholic News Herald)
"Once someone is a member, we make sure to assist that family 24/7 when necessary," Fowler continues. "We socialize sometimes, but primarily, we are a praying group."
On April 22, the society held its annual fundraising dinner in honor of a founding member Clara Patterson, who recently passed away. The dinner – now in its 36th year – is a means of gathering community members, of any faith, together as well as generating donations for their charitable work. Recently, the money they raised was used to purchase pew cushions, chairs for the altar and new carpeting for the church.
"It isn't about the glory," Fowler says, "it's about helping. Seeing something that needs to be done so the parish doesn't have to pay is rewarding. We try to offset the costs."
The annual one-day fund raiser takes about one week to plan. This year, meals for 600 people were prepared, with everything being made from scratch.
"It has been so special to be in this group," says long-time member Marie Scott, and she jokes, "But they work me to death!"
"It blesses me to be a member of this group for all these years," explains Gladys Hood, who is also a founding member. "We all work well together."
"When you give back, so many blessings come to you," Fowler says. "And under the Blessed Mother, you cannot fail."
— Mary B. Worthington, correspondent
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