Matt Dorry prays during the Real Talk Rosary's first gathering. (Molly Halpin photos)
Matt Dorry prays during the Real Talk Rosary's first gathering. (Molly Halpin photos)
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If you bring beer, they will come. 

Packed inside the parish center of Corpus Christi Church in Round Lake, 50 young adult Catholics came out for the first Real Talk Rosary (RTR) on Jan. 18, a faith and community group designed to give millennial Catholics a place to decompress and find peace in the Rosary. 

Mariah Macary, co-founder of RTR, said that the Rosary and holding space for real conversations go hand in hand.

“With the Rosary, whenever you’re not as strong, talking to your mom in general - I always call her ‘mama Mary’ - it’s very peaceful or comforting,” Macary said. “The Rosary is a catalyst to help me feel more centered and that not everything is a big explosion, so I think the two should be linked because of the spiritual fruits of it.”

As a kickoff to the new event, the group was paid a visit by special guest Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger: “If you don’t know the Hail Mary, that’s ok,” the Bishop said. “You’ll know it by tonight because we’re going to say a lot of them.”

RTR was formed almost by accident, when Macary, 24, and Dan Whinnery, 22, separately reached out to Thomas Cronin - advisor to the Bishop for Family and Parish Evangelization, and creator of ‘Good News & Cold Brews’ and ‘Holy Hour & Happy Hour,’ both aimed at young adult Catholics - about wanting to merge a prayer group, specifically the Rosary, with a safe space for millennial Catholics to talk about their lives.

“Of course you can say the Rosary on your own, but I’m very attracted to the group events and the initiatives in starting things in prayer as a group,” said Macary, sitting in a folded chair behind the snack and drink table. “This is prayer we can take everywhere with us.”

As more guests walk in, Macary makes sure to greet everyone with either a wave or a hello. In front of her, the table is filled with delicious goodies, from cookie trays and tiny brownies to a variety of mini cheesecakes. To her left are two blue coolers filled with hard cider, spiked seltzer and beer, with bottles of wine and various sodas scattered around them. In the kitchen, Father George Fleming, pastor of Corpus Christi, and an attendee laugh as they struggle to uncork a bottle of red wine. 

Many attendees already know each other from ‘Good News & Cold Brews’ and or ‘Holy Hour & Happy Hour.’ It goes to show, Macary said, how much of a need there is for these kinds of community events.

“We had to do something for the young adult demographic,” Cronin said. “Then as we started building community and friendships, we wanted to meet people where they’re at.” 

Cronin carries a rosary in one hand and a hard cider in the other, a theme perfectly fitting for the night. He adds that a turnout like this is smaller than normal, estimating an average of around 60 Catholics for each millennial-focused event. 

After drinks and snacks, everyone takes a seat at one of the many round tables scattered around the room, and Bishop Scharfenberger begins reciting the Rosary. A select few attendees (either through volunteering or friendly persuasion) take turns leading the group through a decade of the Rosary, while Bishop Scharfenberger offers a reflection on each of the sorrowful mysteries. 

Some close their eyes while praying, others stare softly around the room. A few count prayers on their fingers, and every so often a jingle of rosary beads can be heard over the soft echo of the group’s Hail Mary’s. 

“It’s nice to be around like-minded Catholics,” said Anthony Leo, parishioner at St. Paul the Apostle in Schenectady. 

Matthew Dorry, parishioner at St. Joseph’s in Troy, was hoping to learn more about the Rosary with other young adults. “I’m interested in the Rosary but I don’t pray it often,” he said, “but just the opportunity to come out and talk about it is nice.” 

The next Real Talk Rosary event is slated for Feb. 16 at 7 p.m., at a yet to be determined location. Deacon Gary Riggi will be the presenter at the second event. For more information, contact Thomas Cronin at thomas.cronin@rcda.org.