Sibling rosary: 10 from family pray it together again

Photo Caption: The 10 Fandel siblings and their extended families pray the rosary on a recent Sunday afternoon in the garage of Donald “Doc” Fandel’s Germantown Hills home.

By: By Jennifer Willems

By Jennifer Willems
of The Catholic Post

GERMANTOWN HILLS — Little did they know it, but when Leo and Lydia Fandel called their 12 children together to pray the rosary around the dining room table in times of trouble, they were starting a prayer chain that would last for generations.

Ten of the 12 siblings, now ranging in age from 72 to 89, gather every Sunday afternoon to pray the rosary for good health, the needs of the extended family and “in thanksgiving for our many blessings,” said Marcella Fandel Obery of Metamora.

While they used to kneel on the floor as children, “bad knees, bad hearts and bad backs” have them sitting these days, she told The Catholic Post.

One thing that hasn’t changed is their devotion to the rosary, which remains “the favorite prayer of all the Fandel family.”

THAT family includes Alvena Force, 89; Melberta Krumholz, 87; Agnes Parr, 85; Dolores “Dee” Harms, 84; John “Jack” Fandel, 83; Marcella Obery, 79; Frederick Fandel, 78; Philip “Sixty” Fandel, 76; Donald “Doc” Fandel, 74; and Lulu Mae “Suzy” Hoffman, 72. One sister, Eileen Miller, and a brother, Austin “Squirt” Fandel, are deceased.

Their parents owned a large farm not far from St. Mary’s of Lourdes Parish and Leo Fandel was considered a pillar of the community. In fact, Fandel Road in Germantown Hills is named for the family and Obery said 14 or 15 Fandel-related families live in close proximity to what had been their farm.

The Fandels grew corn, beans, hay and oats, and had milk cows, hogs and chickens, according to Hoffman, who added that her father used to send milk and eggs with them to school for the Sisters of St. Francis of the Immaculate Conception (Heading Avenue Franciscans). He also made sure they had vegetables in the fall.

ALL OF them went to Lourdes School, which was a public school even though it was run by the Heading Avenue Franciscans. Leo Fandel was a trustee there for 25 years, Hoffman said.

In addition to praying the rosary as a family in times of illness, storms, accidents or death, he demonstrated his devotion to the Blessed Mother by taking a horse and wagon to a nearby creek to haul the stones for what would become the grotto at St. Mary’s of Lourdes.

While their mother wasn’t Catholic when they were small, Hoffman said she prayed the rosary right along with them and helped them develop an appreciation for their faith.

For years the siblings have prayed the rosary once or twice a day individually, depending on need, Obery said.

“Sometimes when I call my sisters they’ll say, ‘I can’t talk now. I’m praying the rosary,” she told The Post.

About three years ago, they started meeting on a regular basis to pray together, Hoffman said.

“THERE’S A lot of sickness in our family. Some were in the hospital,” she explained. That’s when Rich Flavin, the son-in-law of Fred Fandel, said, “We should start getting together again.”

In fair weather they sit on the deck of “Doc” Fandel’s Germantown Hills home or in his garage. When it turns cold, they go next door to Hoffman’s house.

“When the cars go by, they see us sitting in a circle and they just keep looking and looking,” she said with a smile, adding that their prayer time is sometimes followed by a potluck.

“It’s kind of a get-together for the family. They look forward to it,” she said.

The only time their weekly rosary is interrupted is when snow and ice make it prudent for everyone to stay home. “We don’t want anyone falling and breaking a hip,” Hoffman said.

Joining the siblings now are their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. One always says, “I’ve got a lot of favors to pay for,” she told The Post.

“I think it’s wonderful that we can carry it on. I wish more people would,” Obery said.

Editor’s note — The Diocese of Peoria is observing a Special Year of the Most Holy Rosary that will conclude on May 31, 2010.

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