Madison, Wisconsin (Feb. 23, 2021) — A new nonprofit charity founded by a Catholic priest will provide free military-grade steel rosaries to U.S. military personnel, law enforcement officers and first responders. Combat Rosaries for Heroes is being launched on February 23, 2021, which is the 76th anniversary of the iconic photo showing the flag being raised by the U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima during the latter part of World War II.

“We chose the Iwo Jima photo to represent this “Combat Rosaries for Heroes” initiative because it shows the perilous conditions our heroes have faced in the battle against evil, and the surrendered ground they have heroically reclaimed,” said Rev. Richard Heilman, a priest of the Diocese of Madison who founded the charity and serves as its president. “Placing themselves in harm’s way, these heroes have done everything asked of them in their mission to serve and protect our country,” said Fr. Heilman, “We want to honor these heroes by gifting them with this powerful spiritual weapon – The Combat Rosary™ – which will be touched to a Relic of the True Cross of Christ. This particular relic was rescued from a bombed out church during the D-Day invasion in WWII. The Catholic Church teaches that religious articles touched to this relic makes their religious articles a third-class relic of the True Cross of Jesus Christ! That makes these “Combat Rosaries for Heroes” very powerful spiritual weapons.”

Combat Rosaries for Heroes Inc. will raise funds to provide a free Combat Rosary to as many of these heroes as possible. Father Heilman designed the Combat Rosary™ based on the 1916 pull-chain Rosary issued by the U.S. government during World War I. The Rosary is made of steel and features a gunmetal finish. The Combat Rosary™ is carried by the Pontifical Swiss Guard at the Vatican. Each donated Rosary will come with a protective leather zippered case so the sacramental can be easily tucked in a pocket.

“St. Padre Pio once said, ‘Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother,’” Fr. Heilman said. “With all of our world’s troubles and challenges, it’s more important than ever to arm our nation’s heroes with this very powerful spiritual weapon. This project has long been a dream of mine. As Pope Pius XI once said, ‘The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin.’”

Every effort is being made to put all donations toward only the raw cost of materials and assembly in order to get the most Combat Rosaries™ to the most heroes. Fundraising for the project will be done online. Donate at Checks can be sent to P.O. Box 44036, Madison, WI 53744.

Combat Rosaries for Heroes Inc. is a Wisconsin-based nonprofit corporation. Members of its board of directors include:

  • Fr. Richard Heilman, Pastor of St. Mary of Pine Bluff Catholic Church and founder of the U.S. Grace Force media apostolate.
  • Fr. James Altman, Pastor of St. James the Less Catholic Church in La Crosse, Wis.
  • Fr. William Peckman, Pastor of Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Parish in Booneville, Missouri and St. Joseph Parish in Fayette, Missouri.
  • Doug Barry, Catholic speaker and founder of the Battle Ready apostolate.
  • Sister Deirdre Byrne, a missionary with the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts, retired Colonel with the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and a general surgeon.
  • Jeffery Heller, a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force.
  • David J. Mahoney, Sheriff of Dane County, Wis.
  • Joseph T. Leone, Attorney with DeWitt LLP.
  • Eddie Cotter Jr., Founder of the Dead Theologians Society.
  • Joe Alger, U.S. Army veteran and director of military outreach for the Augustine Institute.
  • Michael Albers, U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
  • Ken Pientka, Business Manager for St. Mary of Pine Bluff Catholic Church.
  • Dave Yanke, Operations Manager for Search Optimizers Inc.
  • Pat Moertl, Retired marketing professional; organizer of Catholic initiatives