Maggio continues rosary, scapular ministry
By Susan Canfora | Staff Reporter Nov 23, 2023
Four years after Ocean View resident Andrew Maggio unwittingly started a ministry to distribute rosaries and scapulars — and promised a chaplain at a veterans’ hospital, where his brother-in-law lay dying, that he would provide them to patients — he has provided an impressive number of them: more than 168,000.
At 86 years old, Maggio is continuing the ministry — nationwide and in other countries, including the Ukraine — with the help of volunteers from St. Ann Catholic Church in Bethany Beach, with one of his goals being putting a rosary and scapular into the hands of every school student in the country.
“It doesn’t matter if they are Catholic. God will still protect them,” he said in an upbeat, gentle way.
Maggio never expected to begin a ministry and had no idea it would grow as it has when he talked to the chaplain at the veterans’ hospital, asking him to put a scapular around his brother-in-law’s neck, and learning the hospital didn’t have any scapulars — lengths of cloth suspended from both the front of back of the shoulders and worn to remind those who wear them of their commitment to the Christian life.
Christians trust the scapular as a sign of salvation and believe it offers protection from danger. Generally brown and made of wool, scapulars have on one end the words, “Whosoever dies clothed in this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire,” and “A sign of salvation” is printed on the other end.
Not only are they being sent to schools, but also to Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown for inmates there, to hospices and to the Catholic TV network Eternal Word Television Network, known as EWTN. They go to members of the American Legion, those suffering in the Ukraine, churches and students in Catholic schools, and many who receive them write thank-you notes to Maggio.
They have been shipped to states, territories and countries including Alaska, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Medjugorje — a town in southwestern Bosnia, near Croatia, where Mary, the mother of Jesus, is said to have appeared and made sure scores of school children have received them.
“I’d like to go to every school in the country. We did Delaware and Maryland, and New York is next. And we’re working on the Arlington diocese,” Maggio said during a recent conversation with the Coastal Point.
“It’s so important that children, that everyone, gets these rosaries and scapulars, with all the turmoil in the world today. Kids — we have to get them back to praying. And we are losing so many kids from religion. Anything we can do is important,” he said.
“It’s like a nun told me. She said so much bad news is going around that it’s good to see some good news that people are trying to help to make a better world to live in. It’s a 24-hour-a-day job, but I just love it. I get inspiration from doing it,” Maggio said.
Maggio said there are now 17,000 people nationwide who make rosaries for him, and he gets scapulars from around the world.
He and volunteers fill small bags with a rosary, scapular and literature explaining each, as well as how to pray the rosary, explained Maggio, a native of Baltimore who retired from the insurance business and who explains his mission on his website, at www.rosariesandscapulars.org.
Some rosaries are made by nuns who belong to Our Lady’s Rosary Makers in Louisville, Ky. Others are made and sent to Maggio, free of charge.
Maggio, who pays for postage to ship the rosaries, declined to say how much he has spent, categorizing it only as “a lot of money.”
“We’re trying to get donations. The church sent us a few dollars. We are happy with whatever we get. We’ve been trying to get businesses to help out, and the foundations, if we could get help,” he said.
To donate, call Maggio at (410) 218 2008 or visit www.rosariesandscapulars.org.
A strong believer in the power of a scapular to promise protection, Maggio said anyone wearing one will go to Heaven and was quick to share stories that back up his belief, including one about a storm at sea years ago. According to Maggio, 40-foot waves buffeted a ship, making passengers fear for their lives. A young Catholic sailor took off his shirt, removed his scapular, kissed it and threw it into the ocean. The sea calmed, the passengers were saved and a wave brought the scapular back to the sailor, Maggio said.
“In church Sunday, the priest gave me a compliment in front of the whole congregation. He was talking about the scriptures, when the bridegroom arrived and the women went out to meet him,” Maggio said.
“The priest said, ‘Each one of us has to do something in this world. Like Andy — he’s going to get to Heaven, and God is going to say, “Come in. Andy. Come in.”’”