Dan Whinnery and Mariah Macary both have a love for the Rosary.

And it was this love — combined with wanting to create a forum for young adults to talk about their worries in a prayerful environment — that is behind a new initiative in the Diocese of Albany.

Real Talk Rosary (RTR), the brainchild of these two young Catholics, is a chance for that demographic to connect on a deeper level and share in a prayerful love for Mary through the Rosary.

“We are all on a journey — personally, professionally and spiritually,” said Thomas Cronin, advisor to the Bishop for Family and Parish Evangelization, and creator of ‘Good News & Cold Brews’ and ‘Holy Hour & Happy Hour,’ a pair of  initiatives aimed at younger diocesan Catholics. “RTR will offer young adults a venue to share and accompany each other as we build trust, community and more meaningful friendships.”

The first Real Talk Rosary event will take place on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m., at Corpus Christi Church in Round Lake with special guest presenter, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger. The plan is to hold an event every month, which will include fun, social time with food and drink, prayer time, and a reflection. The next event is slated for Feb. 16 at 7 p.m., at a yet to be determined location. Deacon Gary Riggi will be the presenter at the second event.

Cronin said Whinnery, 22, and Macary, 24, reached out to him separately about creating an event where there would be a prayer component, specifically the Rosary, and a mental-health component, in which an open and honest discussion about life’s challenges could take place. After an hour Zoom call between the three, Real Talk Rosary was born.

Whinnery, who provided the Rosary component after seeing parishioners at St. Edward the Confessor Church in Clifton Park pray the Rosary after daily Mass, was dealing with the stress of looking for a job after graduating from Siena College.

“I figured it wasn’t just me going through hard times and not wanting to talk about them at something like ‘Good News & Cold Brews,’ so I wanted a Rosary group where people could vent about their problems and bring them to prayer,” Whinnery said via email. “The Rosary is such a powerful thing especially for younger Catholics because it takes effort to sit down and meditate on the mysteries of Christ’s life and ministry (with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of course) in a culture dominated by immediacy like ours.

“Taking that time to slow down and devote oneself to prayer while trying to keep distractions out is not only enlightening, but also cultivates a discipline akin to keeping up a solid exercise routine. Father Don Calloway (a Catholic priest and author) calls the Rosary a spiritual weapon in one of his talks, so I personally like to think of it as practicing with a spiritual sword.”

Praying the Rosary, Macary added, brings her comfort.

“I am very close with my maternal mother on earth; it’s a source of comfort for me. And the same is true of praying to Mary. Sometimes for me, it can be awkward talking to God or praying to God, and saying this is my day. I put too much structure on it,” Macary said. “For me and other young adults, going to Mary, praying with her and through her and having that intimate relationship is very comforting and relaxing. You can be assured of the fact, no matter what, even if you haven’t taken it to Jesus yet, she is going to bring it to him.”

Macary, who is a registered nurse as well as a parishioner at St. Pius X in Loudonville and does ministry with children at Sacred Heart Church in Troy, was interested in the mental-health aspect after attending an event downstate at a parish in Monroe that was focused on healing.

“On the way home, I was chatting with some friends from Adirondack Catholic and we talked about our experiences and I said, for me, it was very mental-health related; how I needed to center myself more in prayer,” Macary said. “And I came across an article online and it hit the spot about what we were talking about. Between those two things, it drove me to a pursuit and a passion to want to chat with other young adults about mental health but also prayer and the church. It is medical but it is also spiritual and the two cannot go separate.”

And like Whinnery had mentioned, Macary didn’t see a space to talk about emotional healing or mental health.

“We will go to these events that Tom hosts, and they are wonderful, but you put on a facade almost that you are happy,” she said. “But how do I peel off my skin and divulge into my authentic self? … (Dan) related to what I was saying and that is why Tom jumped and said ‘You need to talk to Dan because he just talked to me.’ ”

Whinnery sees RTR as a place where younger Catholics can grow together.

“I hope that RTR will enable Catholics of a similar age to encourage each other, not only through life’s difficulties, but also in prayer, and to likewise grow in prayer together as brothers and sisters in Christ,” he said.

Macary agrees.

“I am most alive and excited with Christ when I am around people and feeding off that energy,” she said. “There is the time for personal and intimate prayer, but that’s why I was attracted to the combination of being authentic while still having that true beauty of it’s a judgment-free zone.”

For more information about Real Talk Rosary or other young adult initiatives in the Diocese of Albany head to: rcda.org/youbelong.