30,000 Hail Marys and still going strong!
How four couples forged lasting friendships with one promise and a monthly Rosary — for 50 years
By John and Annette Amante
*(photos at right) The Rosary Group in 1964 and in 2006: Front row (left to right) Annette Amante, Lee Pompeo, Ed Indelicato, Doris Indelicato. Back row (left to right) John Amante, Paul Pompeo, Gloria Yorio, Rudy Yorio
The year was 1956. We had arranged for our parents to sit for our infants so we could get the newly discovered Polio vaccine and then spend an evening out with our friends, Paul and Lee Pompeo and Ed and Doris Indelicato. We talked and laughed, and no one was in a hurry to go home: The evening together was a rare treat. With our many commitments, night school pressures, newborn and young children, it was getting more and more difficult to see one another.
“Do you remember what Father (Michael J.) Hunt said years ago at the Confraternity Teen Night?” someone said. Father had predicted that in five years, almost all best friends would lose touch with each other. I hated to think that could happen to us. It’s easy to say, ‘Let's get together over coffee,’ but what if it doesn’t happen? For a moment, we thought back to the good times we had together at St. Leo’s Confraternity dances, to our years of junior high school, and then high school. We had shared so many wonderful memories and experiences. And we sure didn’t want it to end.
Then Paul spoke up: “Why don’t we make a reason to get together? We could say the Rosary once a month at one another’s homes and let the Blessed Mother keep us together!” We all agreed that this was a great idea.
We soon invited Rudy and Gloria Yorio, who were also friends from our youth, to join us in our monthly Rosary commitment. The eight of us vowed to each other that, regardless of obstacles, we would meet. No sitter? No Problem: just bring along the kids. Rain? Snow? We’d show.
Of course it hasn’t always been easy to meet. We moved — as did Paul and Lee, and Doris and Ed — all to different parts of New York. Rudy’s job for Pan Am Airways required him and Gloria to relocate from New York to Florida. Luckily, as an executive, Rudy could easily fly in for the weekend — which is exactly what he and Gloria did, arriving Saturday afternoon and heading out the next day. But through it all, we came together.
In 1990, we visited with the then-retired Father Hunt to tell him how his words had inspired us to keep our friendship alive by praying the Rosary, each month, for, at that time, 34 years. He was, of course, quite pleased to hear that we were still together.
In time we had 11 children among the four couples. When the children were young, they often joined us in saying the Rosary, and they were thrilled to be part of the group. Because of the close bonds we attained through the Rosary, we became like family. We vacationed together at times, and we held “Rosary picnics,” which included day trips for the group. And even on these trips, we continued our tradition — sometimes saying the Rosary in churches, parks, and automobiles, or at mealtimes.
And sometimes, our Rosary gatherings provided unexpected results. In 2006 our group met at an inn on Long Island. We asked the manager if the inn contained a small, private area where we could say the Rosary. Upon hearing this, he enthusiastically agreed, and then shared with us the effect that the Rosary had had on his own life!
Of course, a few things have changed as we’ve grown older. Kneeling isn’t as easy as it used to be, and today we feel it best to pray while seated. But through it all, as always, we’ve shared the good and the bad. Over the past 50 years, we have supported each other through promotions, pregnancies, serious illnesses, victories, defeats, and deaths of parents, siblings, children. No matter what, we could always count on the prayers and love of “The Rosary Group” to carry us through. Through the grace of Our Blessed Mother and the Rosary, we’ve formed loving friendships that will last a lifetime.