The Rosary had an unexpected role in how the family of Bill Grant of Silver Spring, Md., coped with his illness and healed after his death. 

He wasn’t even Catholic, and his wife, Tracy, said that she had prayed the Rosary only intermittently. Things changed in August 2006, when he was diagnosed with melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer. 

“I found great comfort in having a rosary in my pocket or purse all the time. I have prayed the Rosary daily since and take great comfort in it. There’s something very calming about it,” she told Our Sunday Visitor. 

Bill Grant died on March 15, 2007, at age 53. 

When his twin sons, Christopher and Andrew, then 11, looked for a Confirmation service project, they decided to raise money for cancer research and donate it in his memory to the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. 

Then Christopher developed an iPhone application that raises money through downloads.

Prayer into action 

“The inspiration for the Confirmation project came from something our pastor, Father Michael Mellone, said to me when Bill was sick,” Tracy told OSV. “It wasn’t original, but it stuck with me. He said, ‘Act as if everything depended on you, pray as if everything depended on God.’ By collecting money and donating it to cancer research, Andrew and Christopher are living out the first part of that. By giving rosaries, they are living out the second part.” 

The Grants are members of St. Andrew Apostle Parish where the brothers, who turn 15 Nov. 20, were confirmed in December 2009. They worked together on the Rosaries for Research project, ordering the sets of beads online and stuffing them into little bags with instructions. They passed them out at a Mass at Georgetown University Hospital chapel, asked people to pray for a cure for cancer and collected $690. 

“I will never forget watching Andrew count the money,” Tracy said. “His face was alight because he was so overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers.” 

They raised an additional $700 at their home parish. 

Tech memorial 

Halfway through that project, Christopher got the idea to create an iPhone app. His father had wanted an iPhone, and six days before he died he had asked for a calendar to keep track of his work projects. He wanted it, he said, hopefully, “until I get my iPhone.” 

When the iPhone was introduced two months later, “I wept, because I wanted nothing more than to be waiting in line to get him one,” Tracy wrote in The Washington Post, where she is Weekend and KidsPost Editor. 

Christopher’s plan was a way to create a technology memorial for his father, a “total Apple Geek,” Tracy said. “Christopher’s app was really born out of his desire to honor his dad in a way his dad could and would appreciate.” 

They bought the iPhone App Developers Program and a book about iPhone coding, and Christopher started creating the program. “It’s not too difficult,” he said. “I sent them some emails about problems I was having, and they helped me.” 

The 99-cent app is available on the iTunes app store

“There are four different slides,” Christopher said. “It shows a picture of a rosary, and you can sort of pray with it. The next one is about the project, how we raised money for cancer research. The third part is how to say the Rosary; and the fourth is information about the Rosary. If someone doesn’t know much about it, it will teach them. If they already pray the Rosary, it would give you a way of saying the Rosary on your iPhone.” 

The app asks people to pray for a cure for cancer, and the downloads are links in the prayer chain for a cure. 

“This has made me feel closer to my father,” Christopher told OSV. “He really wanted an iPhone, and he didn’t get one, but now he has an app dedicated to him. I think this has helped my whole family.” 

Tracy is proud of what her sons accomplished. “It’s putting prayers into action,” she said. “They are really good kids who tried to stay faithful and resolute when their faith was extremely challenged. They have tried to be positive and strong and keep going forward. It certainly taught me some lessons.”  

Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller writes from Pennsylvania.