wooden rosary beads

Disposing of things that have an emotional or sentimental meaning can be difficult. That includes religious items, like rosary beads and prayer cards. But what do you do with these if you are moving or clearing out someone’s home and you can’t keep them?

Growing up as a Roman Catholic, we always had rosary beads in the house. They included the pretty white ones from First Communion, the ornate rosaries that Grandma kept, or the colorful ones that religious organizations sent. It was the same with prayer cards. I remember Grandma Jennie had a whole stack of them for people who passed away.

Traditionally, any item that is blessed and serves as an object of prayer or devotion has to be burned and then buried where it won’t be disturbed. But burning these keepsakes isn’t a great idea for the environment. Are there reuse options for rosaries and prayer cards that once had meaning for someone?

A quick web search and I learned that there are missions and organizations requesting donations of rosaries, religious medals, and statues. I could also list these items on Craigslist or Freecycle. Maybe someone collects ornate rosary beads or is devoted to a particular Saint.

As for the prayer cards, the older ones like those Grandma had were not laminated and could be recycled. But the newer cards are laminated with plastic and cannot be recycled. So it’s better to find someone who might want them. In addition to Craigslist and Freecycle, I could ask at a church or a local senior center.

When I send donations for Masses to be said, such as prayers for someone who has died, I receive prayer cards. But I have more than enough for any occasion. So, I wrote to the brothers at St. Lawrence Seminary and asked them not to send me more. I could also donate anonymously to avoid getting onto a mailing list and receiving items I don’t need.

I think it’s worthwhile to take my time finding the best home for rosary beads, prayer cards, and other items with sentimental meaning. I’m much more satisfied with the results if I know they will be appreciated and not tossed in the trash.

Feature image by kropekk_pl from Pixabay

By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.