He strings them, others pray them

Prayer at heart of rosary-maker’s mission

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.


COMING UP: On Fathers and Christian Masculinity

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The Year of St. Joseph points us to Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, as the essential model for fathers. Joseph not only manifests genuine masculinity, he also images God’s own fatherhood, as Pope Francis makes clear in his apostolic letter, Patris Corde: “In his relationship to Jesus, Joseph was the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father: he watched over him and protected him, never leaving him to go his own way.” Jesus, though the Son of God, obeyed Joseph, learned from him, and worked with him, acknowledging Joseph as a true expression of God’s own fatherhood.  

God does not just use fatherhood as an image of himself, because he himself is Father, even within his own triune life. Earthly fatherhood comes forth from him and should manifest his life and love. St. Paul speaks of honoring the “Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph 3:15). God wants everyone to be able to see his own fatherly love and called certain men to share in his own paternal gift of bringing forth life and caring for others. Every father is called to be liked Joseph, “an earthly shadow of the heavenly Father” for his own family. 

Our culture, however, often denigrates masculinity, sometimes viewing even its proper expressions as toxic. We too often see maleness in its fallenness — dominating and selfish — rather than showing self-sacrificial service. In fact, later in Ephesians, Paul speaks of the true vocation of the husband and father: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). He also speaks of the role of fatherhood: “Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Paul shows us the goal of fatherhood — sacrificing himself for the flourishing of the family by putting the good of his wife and children before his own desires.   

No matter what the contrary voices of our culture say, we need strong men and fathers. God created man and woman in complementarity, and they need each other to thrive, helping the other in relation to their own strengths and weaknesses. Children need the strong presence of a father to discipline and teach, as Paul reminds us. Study after study has shown that fathers have the largest impact on the faith of their children. Christian Smith explains in his sociological study, Young Catholic America, that “the faith of Catholic fathers is powerfully determinative of the future faith of their children (125). The same can be said for general wellbeing and success. When fathers are absent or refuse to exercise their role, a moral and spiritual vacuum appears. A strong majority of felons, for instance, grew up without fathers in the home.  

St. Joseph helps us to understand the strength of Christian fatherhood. First, like any good husband, Joseph listened — not just to his wife but also to God. Woken up frequently by angels, he demonstrated obedience and trust, quickly leaving everything behind to follow God’s instructions and to protect his family. We also know Joseph for his work as a carpenter and builder, content to live simply and to work hard. Importantly, he also taught Jesus how to work, showing that fathers model and teach by drawing their children into their life and work. And we can also learn from Joseph’s humility, serving the Incarnate God and his Mother without even a single recorded word in the Gospels.  

This humility points us to the essence of Christian fatherhood. Although living with two perfect people, Joseph was still called to lead. He quietly and humbly did what was needed for his family and taught his own maker how to share in his work. Fathers do not lead in order to be in charge or to get their own way. They lead because God asks them to care for and protect their families. Fathers and mothers share in the great and beautiful partnership of family life, although fathers cannot simply sit back and let mom take the lead in the spiritual life, as they are often tempted to do. Like Joseph, fathers should act firmly and lovingly to put God and the family before self, obeying God and leading the family in the right direction. They are called to model faith, work, and sacrifice to their children. 

On Father’s Day we can affirm that masculinity and fatherhood are not just good — they are essential to understanding God and his plan for human flourishing. If our culture turns around, it will be because, in large part, Christian men stand up and fight. As Christians, we cannot give in to the culture’s attempt to denigrate masculinity and fatherhood or to pit men and women against each other. We can use this celebration to affirm the essential role that our fathers play, leading their families like St. Joseph.