11,583. That’s the number of rosaries Ed Steidl, 93, has made for missions. Since he started making rosaries in 1998, he has strung nearly 700,000 beads together in hopes of encouraging more people to pray.
“That’s what we need,” he told the Denver Catholic Register Oct. 23 at his Lakewood home, where he lives with his daughter Penne.
“And that doesn’t even include all of them,” explained his caregiver Renee Cabrera, who helps him with the rosaries sometimes. “That’s just the ones that have been sent to missions.”
Steidl’s handmade rosaries have been delivered to mission locations ranging from as far away as Africa and India, to local sites such as Father Woody’s Haven of Hope day shelter and Gabriel House outreach for pregnant women. He also fills personal and parish requests, beyond the mission rosaries, and recently started donating rosaries to Mount Olivet Cemetery to be shared at services.
“It’s amazing what he does,” said his daughter Penne. “It’s something he can still do at his age. And he’s always got a few in his pocket.”
Steidl first started making rosaries when Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Lakewood called for volunteers for the Queen of Peace Rosary Circle, part of the parish’s Altar and Rosary Society.
“They asked for volunteers and I volunteered,” he said matter-of-factly.
Fifteen years later, though he has slowed down—he walks with a walker and his eyesight is deteriorating—he continues to dedicate time nearly each day to the project. He usually works right after breakfast when he is “fresh” and his eyesight is best.
“Just about every day,” he reflected quietly.
It takes on average a half-hour to make one rosary, and some months he makes up to 150.
“It gives me something to do,” he said. “It keeps my mind occupied and my hands busy.”
Steidel also used to repair rosaries. An optician by trade before retiring, he fostered a keen attention to detail making glasses over the years. He was also a “body man,” he said, and enjoyed working on cars.
Since moving to Denver from Fargo, N.D., in 1970 for the Colorado climate, he has been a parishioner at Our Lady of Fatima. He grew up in a family of 13 siblings on a farm in Fingal, N.D. He was married to his wife, Yvonne, for 63 years before she died in 2009.
Steidl continues to meet with friends in the rosary circle at Our Lady of Fatima nearly every month where they pray the rosary together before making a few. He attends Mass there every Saturday evening and other special events at the church as he is able.
A table in his home is covered with supplies and individual bags and containers of beads for the different type of rosaries he makes: simple plastic beads with white crucifixes, provided for the mission rosaries; more colorful decorative beads with gold and silver crucifixes that he buys for personal rosary requests; and black beads and crucifixes for military rosaries.
When complimented on a red, white and blue rosary with a shining silver crucifix, he asked: “You want it?”
“You can have it,” he continued. “That’s the deal: if I make it, I’ve got to give it away.”
For more information on Queen of Peace Rosary Circle call the parish at 303-233-6236.