LAST YEAR'S RALLY
LAST YEAR'S RALLY

Roberta Lacey of St. John the Baptist parish in Walton is proof that age is just a number. At 93, Mrs. Lacey is working hard to plan a Rosary rally for her parish and town.

This year’s rally is scheduled for Oct. 13 at noon at Veteran’s Plaza in Walton.

Representatives from the America Needs Fatima organization approached Mrs. Lacey last year about becoming a “rally captain” and arranging a Rosary rally in her town. She said she had never heard of a Rosary rally before, but she has a devotion to Mary and had even traveled years ago to Fatima, Portugal, a famous site of Marian apparitions.

Mrs. Lacey said her role in the rally shows that Mary is looking out for her. A widow and mother of four grown sons, Mrs. Lacey said that “the Blessed Mother has been very good to me,” and she wants to thank Mary for providing guidance throughout her life.

Every year, America Needs Fatima organizes thousands of public Rosary rallies across the country to pray to Mary for the conversion of sinners. The rallies also celebrate the 1917 miracle at Fatima, when witnesses said the sun appeared to dance in the sky, and other miracles attributed to the Virgin Mary.

More than ever, Mrs. Lacey said the world needs to ask for the Blessed Mother’s help.

“This country is in an awful state right now,” she told The Evangelist. “The world is in a downward trend unless we pray.”

Each Rosary rally lasts an hour, from the Angelus prayer to the Rosary itself and other prayers. Mrs. Lacey was given a banner by America Needs Fatima to hold during the rally. One of her sons, Kevin, helped make a frame for it.

This past year, Kevin was diagnosed with cancer; Mrs. Lacey says her special intention for the rally is for Kevin’s recovery.

“Everybody has something to pray for,” she added. “Mary gives peace and mind if you pray.”

Last year, the Walton Rosary rally drew almost 40 people. One parishioner drove past and, seeing the group, stopped to join in. Mrs. Lacey said she was “thrilled they came to honor Mary.”

The nonagenarian grew up in Bayside, Queens. She attended Catholic school until eighth grade. Faith was always important in her family; Mrs. Lacey described her mother as a “very strong Catholic.”

Her father became a Catholic when she was older. He was very ill at the time; days before he passed away, Mrs. Lacey recalled him saying, “I feel like a newborn baby” with his newfound faith.

In 1943, Mrs. Lacey was attending a square dance with a friend when she was partnered with a young man named Hugh. Three years later, they were married.

The Laceys raised their four sons in Queens, taking trips into New York City to the Bronx Zoo, Central Park and the Museum of Natural History. “We would eat lunch outdoors on little tables outside [and] the kids loved it,” Mrs. Lacey recalled.

In the late 1960s, Mr. Lacey suffered an accident on the job, and the family moved to upstate New York for a change of scenery. A few years later, he drowned in an accident.

After her husband’s passing, Mrs. Lacey recalled being angry with God for taking her husband. Eventually, she came to believe that he was in a better place. She prayed to Mary for guidance on what to do next; once again, she received the guidance she sought, and began studying to become a nurse at SUNY-Delhi.

It was a career path she had always wanted to pursue. She had been a secretary before she stopped working to raise her children. Now, she began taking night classes, balancing work with motherhood and school.

A few years later, Mrs. Lacey earned her degree in nursing. Her graduation day was made extra special by falling on the same day as her anniversary: “It’s a day I won’t forget.”

Now retired, Mrs. Lacey is keeping busy with a local writers’ group. One of her favorite genres is memoirs; she even wrote a piece titled, “Where Do I Go From Here, God?” after her husband passed away.

Next year, another woman at St. John the Baptist parish will be continuing the tradition of organizing the Rosary rally. Mrs. Lacey is glad it will go on.

The Blessed Mother, she declared, is “not just the mother of God and Jesus, but she is part of the backbone of the Church. We could pray directly to God, but I think it’s quicker if you ask His mother.”