There is a phrase originating from the Schoenstatt movement: Servus Mariae Nunquam Peribit. A servant of Mary shall never perish.
Friends, loved ones and all who bore witness to the decades-long ministry of Richard “Dick” Boldin will now think of that phrase when they hear his name. If there ever was a true servant of the Blessed Mother, it was Boldin, who passed away Oct. 30, 2022.
He was 79 years old.
Dick Boldin is best known throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate, which he founded and ran along with Terry, his wife of 54 years. Through that apostolate, the Boldins promoted opportunities for encounters with Jesus Christ through devotion to his Blessed Mother, particularly in the devotion of the Holy Rosary.
Lydia LoCoco, director of community relations for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, came to know Boldin during her time working under then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who was the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate’s episcopal advisor for many years.
“He was a force of nature,” said LoCoco of Boldin. “Once you worked for a while in the Church, you realized that his energy honestly was Spirit-driven. I think if people will remember him for anything, it will be that his life pointed toward Jesus Christ through the Blessed Mother.”
That was all his dad would have wanted, said Anthony Boldin, Dick Boldin’s oldest son.
“He believed the rosary was the remedy for every ill, and everything we are dealing with in the world,” said Anthony Boldin. “It has been his life’s passion for literally 50 years.”
Dick Boldin originally hailed from a large Catholic family based in Ely, Minnesota. His parents moved to the Milwaukee area when Boldin was around 12 years old. He attended Notre Dame High School on Milwaukee’s south side and attended Kansas State University to study mechanical engineering. At KSU, he also found time to explore his passion for basketball, making the team as a walk-on. For the rest of his life, said his son Anthony, Boldin could always be counted on to participate in a pick-up game with his friends, his kids, and his nieces and nephews.
“His nephews called him ‘Mr. Blister’ because he would never remember to bring his basketball shoes and would play anyway,” said Anthony.
Boldin returned to Milwaukee after graduation and worked as an engineer designing cranes at the Harnischfeger Corporation. He met Theresa, “Terry,” the love of his life, in 1967, and within six months they were engaged, marrying July 27, 1968. They went on to have three children, Deborah, Anthony and Michael, as well as two grandsons.
In the 1980s, Boldin was laid off from his job after the closure of his division, and he returned to school at Marquette University and Milwaukee Area Technical College to study accounting, while also becoming a stay-at-home dad to his three kids. He later worked at a bank and a manufacturing company before retiring to devote his attention full-time to “his passion, his mission in life: his dedication to Mary and the rosary,” said Anthony.
It was a dedication that had its beginning in 1973, when the lifelong Catholic was “completely inspired” by hearing about an apparition of the Blessed Mother. “He started off very small by giving talks and setting up booths and tables at local events, such as the State Fair, and then kept doing whatever he could to spread devotion to Mary and the rosary,” said Anthony. “After this started growing, Dad created the non-profit ministry to promote the rosary, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the predecessor to the current Rosary Evangelization Apostolate, which was formed when Archbishop Dolan came to Milwaukee.”
The Rosary Evangelization Apostolate has promoted many different events, initiatives and resources to evangelize devotion to the rosary and the Eucharist, and Boldin often served as a connector between various ministries to help amplify their impact. That was the case with the “Help America: Pray the Rosary” bumper stickers, which Boldin assisted in producing, publicizing and distributing.
The bumper stickers were the idea of Mary Mazza, a parishioner at St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish in North Lake. She was deeply convicted that God was calling her to make the bumper stickers available as widely as possible to promote the rosary.
“I had no way of knowing how to start this thing,” recalled Mary’s husband Chuck (Mary passed away in 2019). After a call to the archdiocese, he was connected with Dick Boldin and the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate. “Dick was, from the inception, very helpful,” said Mazza. Boldin helped the Mazzas find a graphic designer, connected them with the archbishop and was invaluable in helping to publicize the bumper stickers in other dioceses. He also served as a go-between for orders — about 80 percent of requests for the free bumper stickers came through the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate website, Mazza estimated. There have now been more than 2.25 million bumper stickers distributed.
One of the most recent, and the most significant, achievements of the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate was the 2018 release of “Power in My Hands,” a film that explores stories of inspiring devotion to the rosary. The film featured testimony by prominent national Catholics, including Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki.
“Dick was strongly convicted in this mission,” said Margie Mandli, the executive producer of the film. “It wasn’t just a project, rather it was a mission. He believed so firmly in the power of the rosary. I believe he’d want written on his gravestone: Pray the Rosary.”
After the Milwaukee premiere, the Boldins traveled around the country to introduce the film to audiences coast-to-coast. In 2019, the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate received a prestigious National Gabriel Award from the Catholic Press Association for the film.
“In a way, this film was a culmination of his own love for the Blessed Virgin Mary and his own desire that her beauty and her grace and her intercession be known and taken into the hearts of as many people around the world as possible,” said Dcn. Henry Reyes, who appeared in the film. Dcn. Reyes would later assist in the Spanish translation of the film, which is soon to be released.
Terry Boldin intends to continue the work of the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate, said Anthony, “in some capacity, although dad’s talks and words can never be truly replaced.”
“He was a real model and witness as to what a believer should look like,” said LoCoco. “I honestly think that we should all try to be a little more like him.”