Wednesday, August 26, 2020

She Thought It Was a Necklace

 West Side Boutique Coordinator Nancy Robert read an article about Emilie Fancett, a 13-year-old girl who collects and gives away rosaries. She reached out to the girl’s mother, Brenda, about making some rosaries available to soup kitchen patrons. 

Brenda and Emilie Fancett
Brenda and Emilie
Emilie and Brenda visited West Side Kitchen Aug. 26 and not only donated over 150 rosaries, but also several boxes of crayons and coloring books, stuffed animals, school supplies, games, prayer cards, prayer booklets, and Bibles.

Nancy was thrilled, but she couldn’t help but wonder: Why the love for the rosary?

It all started with Vacation Bible School at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church in Chadwicks, where then-8-year-old Emilie received a goodie bag. Inside was a rosary.

It was a curious thing for her, being raised a Presbyterian. “Do I wear it as a necklace?”

But her mom, Brenda, explained what it was and how to use it.

Emilie fell in love with praying the rosary. A year later she became a Catholic, and found herself collecting the prayer beads.

She talked about it with her grandpa, and, over the course of time, decided to promote the practice and give away rosaries to whoever wants them. She launched her campaign in February 2019.

“I’ve collected roughly 3,000 rosaries and given away about 1,500 so far,” said Emilie, now 13.

She has a basket in the vestibule of the church where anyone can pick up or donate a rosary. Others send rosaries through the mail, thanks to articles in the Syracuse Catholic Sun.

As Sun editor Katherine Long put it:

“Emilie’s idea for her ‘God Gives a Rosary’ campaign -- originally conceived with her grandfather, Ron Baker, and later brought to fruition with the help of her mother, Brenda -- is elegantly simple: encourage parishioners to donate their extra rosaries and then make those rosaries available to folks in the parish and community who need them.”

Among her beneficiaries are a parish in Cuba, local prison ministries, Catholic schools, and now Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen.

“It’s a really nice place,” Emilie said after seeing the soup kitchen and boutique up close. Her mom put it another way: “It’s a real blessing here.”  

But perhaps the true blessing is in volunteers and donors, including a 13-year-old girl.

Emilie Fancett with her donated rosaries, stuffed animals, crayons and books.