Twenty stations dot front yards of homes around Our Lady of the Scapular Parish, creating community rosary walking path
WYANDOTTE — In Wyandotte, the Catholic faith is an integral part of the public square.
That's because parishioners of Our Lady of the Scapular Parish for years have made a point of bringing their faith to the streets — literally — starting with their own front yards.
Throughout the month of May, a month traditionally dedicated to Mary, parishioners are praying the rosary in a unique way, while taking a leisurely Sunday stroll through the neighborhood. During the weekly walks, Our Lady of the Scapular parishioners stop at five "rosary box" stations along the route, praying the ancient prayer in people's front yards.
The rosary boxes each depict a mystery of the rosary and are in the front yards of private homes, giving Wyandotte a unique rosary walk reminiscent of those one might find in Poland, parishioner Debbie Bloomfield said.
“I visited Poland back in 1999 and was inspired by the shrines you’d find in neighborhood and the countryside,” Bloomfield told Detroit Catholic. “We do pro-life walks every spring through Wyandotte. Back when the city had six Catholic churches, we’d walk to five of them and pray a decade of the rosary. While walking, I thought it would be unique to have these stations and do a rosary walk like you see in Europe.”
Bloomfield teamed up with parishioners and the parish Vacation Bible School to build the six-foot-tall wooden boxes, each of which contain an image of the various mysteries of the rosary behind a weatherproof glass. There are 20 such stations in total, most hosted in the yards of current parishioners.
Biblical references to the various mysteries are printed on the image to teach passersby about the rosary, along with a small plaque commemorating their installation in October 2002, a year dedicated by Pope St. John Paul II as the Year of the Rosary. The plaques also honor Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, which now is a part of Our Lady of the Scapular Parish.
Each May, Our Lady of the Scapular parishioners and others meet on Sundays at noon to begin praying the rosary, before processing along one of four paths that run throughout the neighborhood. The group prayed the Luminous mysteries on Sunday, May 8, and plans on praying the Sorrowful Mysteries on Sunday, May 15, and the Glorious Mysteries on Sunday, May 22.
“We figured out the route by asking parishioners if they would like to volunteer to host a station,” Bloomfield said. “My husband went out to dig the holes and place the posts. The pictures are protected by plastic to weather-proof the stations, and we have brass screws in the back, so they won’t rust. It took us to October 2003 for us to finish.”
The 20 stations were placed in front yards to make up the four paths, each about a mile long. A few parishioners have died or moved away from the neighborhood since they were installed, so it has been up to Bloomfield and others to ask the new homeowners if they were OK with having the Catholic devotion in their front yard.
“Some people who have moved in said they didn’t want it, or a real estate agent takes it out before putting the house up for sale, but the stations say 'Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Year of the Rosary,' so they usually call the church,” Bloomfield said.
Bloomfield said 18 of the 20 stations are hosted by current Our Lady of the Scapular parishioners or parishioners of another nearby parish, and the other two are hosted by families who don’t seem to mind the devotional to Mary adorning their home — a bit of passive evangelization, Bloomfield calls it.
“I was talking with a young couple who recently bought a house that had one of the stations,” Bloomfield said. “While talking to them, they said they don’t really go to church, but the husband grew up Catholic, so I tried inviting them to church. I suggested they might move the station next door, but they said to just leave it where it was. It didn’t bother them.”
Debbie’s husband, Deacon Richard Bloomfield, led the May 1 rosary walk featuring the Joyful Mysteries.
The path took the group down Vinewood to the home of Barbara and Michael Bozymowski, Our Lady of the Scapular parishioners who hosts the Second Joyful Mystery: “The Visitation.” The Bozymowskis decorated the station with flowers and a blue light, and put out a fresh flower basket to commemorate the first week of May.
The couple didn’t join the rosary walk, but welcomed the pilgrims and prayed with them as Deacon Bloomfield read a reflection after finishing the decade.
“We have some more flowers, but it’s a little early in the season,” Michael Bozymowski told Detroit Catholic. “It means a lot being in the neighborhood of the parish and being able to host the second rosary box; I really like it. It’s a Polish tradition that brings back the old country.”
Michael’s parents owned the home when the rosary box was first installed, but after Michael and Barbara took over the home, they wanted to keep it. The box’s presence has sparked conversations about Mary and the rosary with friends and neighbors.
“A few times people have stopped and asked what it was,” Barbara Bozymowski said. “We explained it is one of the decades of the Joyful Mysteries, and they are scattered throughout the whole city; there is a listing at (the parish) where people can check them out.”
Michael added hosting a rosary box is a point of civic pride.
“It shows this is a proud Polish-Catholic neighborhood,” he said.