Monday, July 01, 2024

16-Year-Old Builds Rosary Business to Spread Devotion

16-Year-Old Builds Rosary Business to ...

There are many Catholic parishes, institutions, shrines and companies around the world that make rosaries.

But are any of them run by a 16-year-old?

Rings of the Lord — which crafts quality, handmade rosaries designed to last — was founded nearly four years ago by Will Henry, the oldest of Brad and Ashley Henry’s five children. 

Although a young, developing entrepreneur, Will is also an active member of his local parish, Immaculate Conception Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina, assisting as an altar server.

There, he met Steven Rademacher, a general manager of a high-end sporting goods store, who also oversaw the parish’s altar server program. The Henrys and Rademacher quickly developed a friendship when the former moved into the area from Florida nearly five years ago. A craftsman from an early age, Rademacher (now in his 30s) often constructed little items, including an “Irish Penal Rosary” — a 10-bead rosary used by Irish Catholics to covertly pray while persecuted by the English government in the 17th and 18th centuries. Brad noticed Rademacher’s rosary and asked for one, which the latter obliged.

One Sunday morning in 2021, when Rademacher delivered the rosary to the Henry house, Will saw it and immediately gravitated to the design and what it represented about Irish Catholics’ determination to keep the faith alive.

“I hand it to [Will] and he says, ‘Oh, this is so cool. You could have a business selling these,’” Rademacher told the Register. When Rademacher informed the then-12-year-old that he had no time to create a new business, he recounted, Will “paused, looked up at me and said, ‘Well, then I’ll do it.’”

For Will, the opportunity was too good to pass on. He already aspired to create his own business and had an affinity for developing websites. As he states on the Rings of the Lord page: “It was the enthusiasm I had about the rosary combined with my entrepreneurial spirit that led to starting a business, making these rosaries, and spreading the rosary’s devotion to the Blessed Mother.”

With assistance from Rademacher and his parents (both attorneys), he connected with wholesalers for supplies and filed the necessary paperwork to establish Rings of the Lord. To help build the rosaries, he enlisted his other siblings, particularly his younger brother Walker, 13, who has assisted him since its launch, creating well-made devotional aids: the rosaries consist of silver beads, plated metals and stainless steel to prevent them from breaking.

Quality Prayer Aids

“The rosary quality is important to me because I believe that we should make those things we reach to God for with great care,” the teenage businessman told the Register. “We don’t want to have to buy rosaries again and again. I think quality is so important because it shows respect to our Creator.”

Business, however, was slow going at first. For most teens, hitting such an obstacle would have deterred them from continuing the venture. But not Will. For him, Rings of the Lord was not simply a passing childlike fad — it has been an opportunity to bolster his business acumen and faith.

“The Rings of the Lord has stayed around because, for me, it’s not been as much about if it’s successful or not,” he told the Register. “I’m learning about business in a certain way and business just interests me so much.”

Still, Will wanted to spread awareness about the Irish Penal Rosary and devotion to the Blessed Mother. At first, he marketed them on Instagram, but then expanded his horizons by reaching out to the Abiding Together podcast, hosted by Sister Miriam Heidland, Michelle Benzinger and Heather Khym. The show gave Rings of the Lord a shout-out, which helped increase orders. Since then, the business has been featured on other outlets, including EWTN. Depending on the season, Will and Walker are building and shipping hundreds of Irish Penal and five-decade rosaries per week.

Mom Ashley couldn’t be prouder.

“He’s gotten a little taste of all of it,” Ashley told the Register. “This is his thing, and he keeps pushing it and driving it.”

She has had her own growth in developing a relationship with the Virgin Mary and the Rosary. Born into a Protestant household, Ashley converted to Catholicism when she married Brad. Admittedly, she “wasn’t drawn to Mary initially,” but has since consecrated herself to the Blessed Mother. To her, the Rosary is now a crucial aspect of their family life — even so far as hosting parishioners for a monthly prayer and potluck dinner.

“I’ve just continued praying the Rosary with our children,” she told the Register. “What I’m focusing on now is learning how our lives so much align with the mysteries of the Rosary. We have our sorrowful times, our joyful times, our glorious times — our lives go through the same kinds of cycles and mysteries just as Christ’s did.”

Rings of the Lord’s customers have also shared their increased devotion to the Rrosary — as well as the product’s quality. One review by “AnneMarie S.” says she feels “such a gravity when I pray with this finger rosary,” adding, “The presence of our Blessed Mother is right at hand when I use it to pray for the unborn in prayer groups.” Another customer named “Joseph L.” remarked on the rosary’s “durability,” saying in allows his children to become familiar with a rosary and explore” the prayer’s mysteries.

Saintly Inspiration

Selling rosaries, however, is only one aspect of Rings of the Lord’s mission. Convinced by his mom and inspired by soon-to-be canonized Carlo Acutis, who developed a website chronicling Eucharistic miracles, Will has begun compiling and marking on a map stories of saints — from St. Dominic, founder of the Rosary, to Pope Leo XIII — who have been intrinsic in spreading devotion to the Rosary. Still a work in progress, he hopes to add more biographies to the map, including St. John Paul II, whom he admires. As he told the Register, “If St. Pope John Paul II is praying the Rosary, that probably means I should be praying the Rosary as well, because he obviously knows something I don’t about our Lord and Savior.”

Much like the saints he admires, Ashley’s faith has served as a model for Will; likewise, his endeavor has strengthened her and her children’s devotion to the Rosary.

“Overall, this whole journey has been a blessing for our whole family, and Will is the driver behind it,” she told the Register. “He’s pulled his siblings in, and it’s part of our household discussions on what needs to happen this week. The business has been great in what Will has learned, but also our faith, our relationship with the Blessed Mother has grown through this, too.”

She added, “I just love seeing him grow spiritually and want to share the fruits and the power that can come from praying the Rosary, especially as a family.”

For Rademacher, Rings of the Lord has made the Rosary more “in front of my mind than it would have been otherwise” and built a friendship he never anticipated. He also admires Will’s willingness to “take calculated risks” over the past several years, with an attitude of not being “bound by common inhibitions or common fears.”

“I consider him a peer even though he is nearly half my age,” Rademacher told the Register. “It’s made a real friendship that, regardless of where he and I end up in the future, that friendship is always going to be there. And, quite frankly, I cannot wait to see what he does when he is out of college and out of the world. It’s going to be super interesting to watch.”

Will has remained humble throughout the journey, often crediting his parents, Rademacher and his brother Walker for their support, to whom he says Rings of the Lord would not have grown to what it is today. He also is grateful to the Blessed Mother, telling the Register that “a lot of this business is just the blessing of the Lord.”

In the end, no matter what his future holds, Will hopes to “remain close” to the Rosary, following Mary’s fiat (her “Yes” to bear Christ), as well as spreading the Gospel message to those in his generation.

“Today, what you see a lot in the world is that the emptiness of sin is just so draining of people’s joy and happiness because they’re “not living the joy that the Lord has given,” he told the Register. “It’s very important to stay close to Mary in today’s day and age. She’s the Mother of God.”