After being laid off from his job of twenty years at the age of fifty and with a family of nine to support, my father, Marvin Liebl, took a job at a small convenience shop owned by a friend to make ends meet. In between waiting on customers he would faithfully pray the rosary, but in doing so would lose his place in remembering which “mystery” he was meditating on. To help jog his memory, he scribbled out simple doodles of each mystery as he prayed – refining these doodles a bit more for weeks until he was finally satisfied. Once they were complete, dad realized that his “little reminders” were anything but little!
With his great entrepreneurial spirit, dad excitedly ran his “idea” by me to engrave his symbols on a gold ring as a reminder of Christ’s life when praying the rosary. I loved the idea our family knew the design was truly inspired; however a gold ring would be too expensive for many to afford and I suggested printing the symbols on T-shirts as an affordable solution. As it turned out, wearing these odd, hieroglyphic and stylized symbols on a T-shirt provoked the question “what do those symbols mean?” from passerby’s and as a happy result, served as a great conversation starter for evangelizing. The success also marked the beginning of Dad’s new business “Distant Shores”.
The following five years, Dad wore his shirts daily as a uniform (for God) and traveled throughout the United States and around the world to various religious conferences where his “Rosary Symbols” were widely received by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. His design was a simple and unique tool to quickly teach, learn and remember the mysteries of the rosary/gospel message as they prayed and meditated on Jesus’ life.
Since dad’s death in 1995, Pope John Paul added the “Luminous” mysteries (which focus on the public life of Jesus) and suddenly dad’s work became incomplete (as his design only included the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries). In 2010, I somehow was inspired to finish the symbol designs for the Luminous mysteries; I had been thinking about it for years, but was never quite ready. Wanting to preserve all I could of dad’s design, I utilized the same lines, curves and shapes of the original work… and now dad’s work became “our” work and complete once again!
I am indeed blessed to finally be able to carry on dad’s work as we shared so much in common (our love of family, travel, entrepreneurship, meeting people and serving Jesus). I am also blessed and thankful for my faith filled mother, Virginia, who also shares my love of art, people, politics and more and who taught me to fight for the good and for the just at all costs. Without her relentless encouragement and enthusiasm for serving Jesus and continuing this business to give glory to God, I would not have finished the symbols.
Sincerely and with God’s grace,