Goodbye Sr. Cecilia Fandel

In the fall of 1987,  Sister Cecilia Fandel of the Servants of Mary Order (founded in 1233 in Florence, Italy), arrived at the Howard Area Community Center to begin her service to the residents of the North of Howard community.  It would be the beginning of a 24 year commitment that officially ended with her retirement at the end of June 2011.  Over the years, Sister Cecilia has been a dedicated 'community activist' providing leadership, direction and spiritual guidance to thousands of residents.  Our neighborhood would be a far different place were it not for her work and commitment over the years. 

It's impossible to list all the specific contributions she has made in this limited space but some of the highlights are: she was instrumental in  creating, supervising and managing the Community Garden at Juneway and Hermitage; she played a key role in initiating and organizing the community in establishing and overseeing Triangle Park and is responsible for the amenities now in Triangle Park, i.e., benches, water fountain, the recently built Fitness Course and the Peace Pole; she was instrumental in the planning and building of the Harold Washington Memorial Playlot on Paulina, as well as the Willye White Recreation Center and Park at Marshfield and Howard; she established, organized and lead the HACC Seniors Club; she taught at the Howard Area Alternative High School; she spent countless hours in organizing and leading community meetings dealing with untold issues of concern and importance to the neighborhood and it's residents.

In recognition of outstanding achievements and contributions to the City of Chicago, Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Chicago Department of Aging  presented Sister Cecilia with the 2009 Luminary Senior Citizens Award, which is the highest award of the Chicago Senior Citizens Hall of Fame into which she was also inducted. 

In nominating Sr. Cecilia for the award, Pamela Barnet, executive director of Howard Area Community Center, wrote:

Sr. Cecilia Fandel

"Sr. Cecilia's dedication to the Rogers Park community is truly inspiring. Her actions and words are a guiding light to neighborhood residents. Above all, she leads community members to take action together and realize their own strength. I cannot think of any single individual who has had a greater impact on our community, and I truly believe there is no one more deserving of induction into the Chicago Senior Citizens Hall of Fame."
This was not the first time Sr. Cecilia was recognized for her service. She received the Spirit of Rogers Park Award from the Rogers Park Community Council (1999), the Friends of the Parks Individual Award, "For organizing and mobilizing community groups for park protection and improvement in North Rogers Park" (2003), and the Unsung Hero Award from Howard Area Alternative High School, "In honor of your spirit, your dedication, and your devotion to the students here over the past five years" (2005).

Her years of community commitment, dedication and service are unparalleled. She has made our North of Howard (Germania) neighborhood a better place for all and made those of us whose lives she touched, better human beings. Words alone can not do justice in expressing our gratitude. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, Sister Cecilia! We wish you God speed in your retirement and future endeavors.

(On Friday Sister Cecilia moved to Ladysmith, Wisconsin.)

Special thanks to Mike L. for letting us post his beautifully written dedication.