Abel León dreaded saying goodbye to his mother, Josefina León. Last month, Mr. León and his sister quietly celebrated their mother’s 70th birthday in Springfield, Ill. Mr. León, 44, who lives in Chicago, wasn’t sure when he would see his mother again amid social distancing. To prolong their goodbye, Mr. León suggested they say a rosary, a prayer that his mother has said every day for years.
“I saw how much that seemed to give her some peace,” Mr. León says. Then inspiration struck. “I said, ‘you know mom, we could stay in touch doing rosaries.’’’
The following evening, March 16, Mr. León and his three siblings joined their mother on a video conference to begin their new daily practice of saying the rosary, following along with a string of beads that represent the cycle of prayers. “This was a way we could just check in and be together as a family,” says Mr. León. “Mom is a widow and everyone worries about her.”
As word spread throughout Mr. León’s large extended family—his mother is one of 12 siblings—the rosary video-call quickly grew to include relatives spanning Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, California, North Carolina and Mexico. Mr. León, who works as a corporate-compliance investigator, offers the group technical support. Since his relatives are familiar with different video-conferencing services, Mr. León props up his iPad in front of his laptop screen, allowing people calling in through different services to see each other. “They can definitely all hear each other so it ends up working out,” he says.
It takes around 15 minutes for a critical mass of people to join the call at 8 p.m.
On a recent Sunday night, some 25 members of Abel León’s family dialed in to pray the rosary together https://t.co/DpCNRPi62j
— Jorge Luis Lopez Esq (@lopezgovlaw) April 22, 2020