“I’m a good shot,” said Cynthia Darosett of Peters Creek as she sat in her living room, deftly manipulating koa beads onto a string.
Raised in Chugiak, the former security guard travelled across Alaska protecting North Slope workers and surveyors from bears. She worked for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and also did a stint at the Alaska Native Medical Center. For much of her career, Darosett carried a gun.
“I never imagined I would be making rosaries,” Darosett said.
The mother of five boys and grandmother to eight, Darosett is the creator of Cynthia’s Inspirations.
She started making rosaries 16 years ago when her mother died.
“Rosaries to me mean family,” Darosett said.
Darosett was raised in a large Catholic family. When her grandmother took her for walks, they would recite the rosary.
Later, when Darosett was placed in foster care, her foster mother said the rosary three times a day with the household.
“It was a good home,” Darosett said.
In 2001 when Officer Justin T. Wollam of the Anchorage Police Department was killed in the line of duty, Darosett incorporated APD lapel pins into her rosaries. She sold the rosaries and donated the proceeds to Wollam’s widow, Kristy. Darosett had never met the Wollams.
“I just wanted to do something nice,” Darosett said.
Darosett’s pieces are made from glass, Hawaiian pussy willow seeds, sandalwood seeds, and various woods and metals. They range in price from $20-$60. She takes custom orders and specializes in memorial rosaries.
Darosett also offers free rosary repairs on any rosary.
The only time Darosett had to repair one of her own creations was when a man wore his rosary and got a little too physical.
“Don’t wear it and wrestle,” Darosett said.
She recommends keeping rosaries in a pouch or purse when not actively being used.
Darosett takes special care that her rosaries feel good in the hands of her customers. She also makes them to last.
“Mine are made to pass down from generation to generation,” Darosett noted.
Darosett, an Alaskan Native American, is active in the Anchorage-based Cook Inlet Region, Incorporated (CIRI). She also belongs to Chugiak-Eagle River Women in Business. Both organizations engage her skills and dedication to her trade.
“I put my heart and soul into everything,” Darosett said.
Darosett is currently battling Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder which causes the body to attack the thyroid and brain. Cynthia’s Inspirations allows Darosett to work from home on her own schedule.
Her rosaries, bracelets, necklaces, earrings and key chains can be found at Peters Creek Farmers Market and Crafts at American Legion Post 33 in Chugiak, every Thursday starting in June from 3-8 p.m.
Ricky Shoop, Director of Youth Ministry and Faith Formation at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Eagle River, described the purpose of a rosary.
“It’s not meant to be a piece of jewelry. Its intended purpose is for prayer,” Shoop said.
Shoop explained that when a person uses the rosary, they are not worshiping Mary.
“When we pray to Mary we’re not worshipping her. We’re speaking to her … It’s kind of like she’s leading us by the hand and introducing us to Christ,” Shoop said.
He compared praying to Mary, or any of the Saints, as asking a friend to pray for you.
“The rosary is walking with Mary and meditating on the life of Christ,” Shoop said.
He added, “Our end goal is to be in a deeper relationship with God.”
Editor’s Note: Melinda Munson and her husband, Paul, moved to Chugiak three years ago after escaping the heat of the Lower 48’s Southwest. She is the mother to six children – four of which have special needs – and thus has the undying admiration of this editor.