Tom and Ronda Scrivner of El Paso, Texas, have a unique retirement hobby, one that recently reached Alaska. Born out of grief from the loss of a daughter Tommy Lynn, who died, they began making beaded rosaries, primarily in college colors, and sending them to an ever-expanding circle of schools.
The Newman Club — a Catholic student group — at University of Anchorage, Alaska was sent a shipment from the Scrivners, in the green and gold school colors of the campus.
Garrett Rossing, president of the UAA Newman Club said he would distribute them to club members who “didn’t have a rosary or perhaps needed another.” As for the rest, they plan to distribute them around the campus to others who might want one.
“We really appreciate what Tom did for us,” Rossing said, “and we’ll keep his ministry in our prayers.”
Tom Scrivner, who was an assistant superintendent of secondary education in El Paso, said he and his wife have blanketed colleges in Texas and beyond with rosaries. He and Ronda are Baylor University graduates, and all three of their daughters graduated from Texas Tech, so the ministry began there.
It all started when a neighbor’s wife died, and left behind beads and materials from her own rosary-making effort. The Scrivners offered to take the left-over materials, and a mission was born, dedicated to their daughter, who was a teacher in Atlanta.
“The death of a child is a very heart-wrenching thing for a parent, both emotionally and spiritually,” Scrivner said. The rosary project has become an outlet.
“I started the project,” he added, “but Ronda likes to tell everybody that I became management and she became labor.”
He estimates he and his wife, both in their 70s now, have made over 11,000 rosaries, in school colors usually donated to Newman centers. More than 50 universities have received the rosaries.
But they haven’t stopped there.
“The chaplain at the hospital in El Paso loves to have our rosaries to give to newborns in pink and blue,” Scrivner said. “He’ll call and say, ‘Could you please make me more?’”
And lately, the Scrivners sent some to Africa with people traveling to Rwanda and Nigeria.
“A lady from Rwanda told me, ‘My people will cherish these. They have nothing.’”
Ronda Scrivner is a retired English teacher. One of their daughters is an assistant district attorney and one works for the University of Texas.
Tom Scrivner said sometimes people offer to help defray costs, and he tells them, “No, you can’t pay us for anything. This is God’s work.”