Leroy Hanisch loves a good practical joke. And he especially likes to play them on his parish priest. About 10 years ago, he sawed a car in half and placed it in a large puddle of water in the parking lot of his parish — St. Mary, Help of Christians Parish in St. Augusta — making it look like the car had sunken into a hole in the ground.
“Life is short,” Hanisch said, “and it’s good to laugh.”
This year, before Easter, Vincentian Father Jose Edayadiyil, who now serves as pastor in St. Augusta, took a group of parishioners to visit his former parish in Isanti to see the large rosary shrine that was built there in 1983.
That’s when the idea came to Hanisch to construct “St. Augusta’s Largest Rosary.” Hanisch collected 55-gallon barrels from a cheese plant he was working near to serve as “beads” on the rosary.
On the evening of June 21, Hanisch, with the help of community members, family and friends, carefully planned to surprise Father Edayadiyil with the giant rosary as he was leaving a meeting for their parish festival, which is planned for June 24 and 25.
“It was a big surprise,” Father Edayadiyil said. “It was very funny.”
Though the sight of the large rosary has inspired many smiles and hopes to bring more to the faces of people visiting the festival, Father Edayadiyil also hopes it will be a reminder for people to think of the rosary.
“I hope that it might also lead people to prayer,” he said.