Ted Harasti, left, and Br. Paul Koscielniak break ground on the rosary path. Photo courtesy of Ted Harasti

Walking the rosary, a dream come true

  • September 20, 2014

A 40-year dream of a walkable rosary path is finally coming to life at the Marylake Retreat Centre in King City, Ont.

On Sept. 6, Ted Harasti and several volunteers broke ground on what will become Our Lady of Grace Rosary Path.

“The things that have been happening to make this happen have just been tremendous,” said Harasti, a sculptor and iconographer. “They are essentially miracles in my eyes.”

Harsati said he has been awaiting this day since experiencing a revelation in 1974 while attending a silent retreat at the Manresa Jesuit Spiritual Retreat Centre in Pickering, Ont. While sleeping, Harasti said he saw Mary escorting him along a pathway lined with a larger-than-life rosary.

“The beads of the rosary were about three feet in diameter with a kneeling notch carved into it,” he wrote on his website. “The path went from one bead to the next and (they) were spaced randomly, about one hundred feet apart and joined together with a stainless steal chain.”

The actual path won’t be quite so grand. It will be about one kilometre long with about 12 metres between each rosary bead. Harasti said the point of the path is to allow people to meditate on the rosary rather than simply rush through the prayers.

“We are hoping that people will take time to slow down their busy lives and walk this pathway and meditate between each bead, and say the rosary at a slower pace,” said Harasti, predicting an able-bodied person should need about an hour to complete the path. “The whole point of the rosary is to follow the life of Christ. The rosary leads you to Christ (because) Mary leads you to Christ.”

After waking from his dream in 1974, Harasti quickly sketched out the path he’d envisioned. But at the time he was busy organizing Canada’s Right to Life Committee with John Rooney, so his rosary project went on a back burner.

“But the concept continued to pursue me,” he said.

The project finally got going a couple of years ago when Harasti launched a buy-a-bead campaign.

“People buy a bead for $2,000 and that gives them the bead and the base that it is bolted to, and a brass plaque with any dedication they want on it,” he said.

Before breaking ground on a field near the Marylake retreat centre, 15 of the beads had already been purchased, said Harasti. He believes it will cost more than $250,000 to get the path into a “useable state,” which does not include paving, a fountain or additional statues and shaded rest areas along the way.

Luciano Cornte, director of King Cross Contracting, and a lay member of the Augustinians, has been donating time, manpower and equipment rentals to the construction process.

“With all of the good that the Lord does for us, it is always good to have an opportunity to go and do some good,” he said. “We have dangerous operations and we ask the Lord to look after all of our men. The company needs blessings.”

Cornte added that he will continue to send workers to assist in the path’s construction when his company, which does infrastructure work for a number of municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area, is “slow” until it is completed.

Although Harasti expects the path to be “useable,” by next fall, he said the work will continue for years to come.

“The work will go on and on and the fundrasing will go on and on,” he said. “Our function is to regenerate interest in Marylake and help rebuild it.” 

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