Roses for Dignity

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Hundreds of ruby red roses sat in buckets, pots or trashcans as they waited for their debut. Attached to each bloom was a note: "It is the duty of every man to protect the dignity of women because woman is the most beautiful creation the world has witnessed from God- St. John Paul II."

Two by two, members of the George Mason University Knights of Columbus carried the roses to different parts of campus. Once there, they handed a flower to each girl they met. "I just thought it was a really good opportunity to show a message that's very contrary to what society says today. (We believe) every woman has dignity and is loved," said freshman Peter Nguyen.

The Roses for Dignity project began last year around Valentine's Day. The Knights ordered 500 roses, giving some to the girls within the Catholic campus ministry, and then to the women they encountered on campus. This year they are bringing bouquets to sorority houses as well.

"It's a way of reminding them of their God-given beauty and worth, and that they should be appreciated for that," said Brandon Riddle, the grand Knight of the council.

Junior Dominic Merlino was in charge of the project. After noon Mass Feb.12, he told each team where to hand out roses and instructed them to wish each girl a "Happy Valentine's" from the Knights.

"Personally, I see so many people who just need love in their life, and a real love," he said. "I think this gets a message across that there are people who actually care about others."

The reactions from the women were positive, the Knights said. "We handed this one girl a rose and she was just smelling it with a big smile on her face. Even if she didn't get the full message, we made her day," said Merlino.

For Riddle, the gesture was not just a way to affirm women, but to thank them. "This matters to me because when I grew up I was apathetic in my faith and then I met a great friend of mine," said Riddle. "Her identity stemmed from her attraction to God and that ultimately led me to get really serious about my faith.

"If it wasn't for her then I wouldn't be where I am today," he said. "It shows that women have an innate gift to convert hearts through their God-given beauty and dignity."

Di Mauro can be reached at zdimauro@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @zoeydimauro.



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016