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Note: Serenity Retreats are nondenominational, ecumenical and spiritual rather than specifically religious. Only spiritual leaders familiar with Twelve Step programs lead Serenity Retreats. The leaders may be Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, ministers or laypersons.

Photo: August 8–10, 2014 Long Branch, NJ retreat leaders

024 jackie veronica peggy

Captain Jackie, Leader Veronica Picone, and Co-Captain Peggy

The March Morristown NJ Serenity Retreat has moved!

We met March 14-16, 2014 at St. Gabriel’s Retreat Center in Clarks Summit PA and were all enthusiastically surprised at the beautiful, sunny, friendly, convenient venue that our Captains Lynn and Karen had found for us. On top of that our Leader, Sr. Linda Fischer, was wonderful – warm, down-to-earth, and well prepared with excellent material. Linda (as she asked to be addressed) gives Twelve Step retreats all over the country and I highly recommend her to all our SRL Captains.

Next year the Clarks Summit PA Serenity Retreat will be on the first weekend of March (March 6 -8, 2015). For further information and for reservations, contact Karen DiPasquale at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Sunny windows in the Conference Room

Captain Karen DiPasquale, Leader Linda Fischer, and Captain Lynn Nizich

March 2014 Clarks Summit PA Retreatants

Tell Us Your Mickey Stories

Mickey Lacey left us January 8, 2014. Her funeral was on her 85th birthday, January 11.

Mickey Lacey Dies

by Mona Sides-Smith, President, Serenity Retreat League

Mickey Lacey could have been a lion tamer; she ran her Serenity Retreats like a cross between a Nunnery, a Circus and Marine Boot Camp.

She ran the first Serenity Retreat League office the same way. Mickey was secretary to the League founder, Fr. Frederick Lawrence (Father Fred) for as long as he lived. She drove from Staten Island, across Manhattan and out to Stirling, New Jersey, where she took her post at St. Joseph’s Villa with a burst of energy that must have frightened the daylights out of some of the priests who had been sent there for Father Fred to try to get sober and back to their priestly duties. That was his day job. The Serenity Retreat League was his weekend and part time job which meant that Mickey Lacey did the newsletter, the mailing list, the filing of individual retreat information and the consoling of retreat captains in about twenty-five cities around the United States. Father Fred, who died in April of 1990, managed the money coming in from the Captains, and wrote some magnificent lectures for all twenty-five retreats. Mickey and Father Fred were alike in some ways: He was a tall, big man; she was a short, big woman. Both were charismatics. When either of them walked into a room, everyone noticed.

As Captain of the SRL weekend retreat in Esopus, New York, Mickey was as solid as Mount St. Alphonsus, the monstrous stone castle on four hundred acres of farm and orchard land on the west bank of the Hudson River. That is where her retreatants congregated for many years. The hundred year old hot water heating system in the aging Catholic seminary turned sanatorium turned retreat center clanged and banged at about seven o’clock each morning, getting us retreatants up and moving about. Hey, maybe it was not the heating system. Maybe it was Mickey causing the commotion. She got a hundred or so of us up and doing our best to get spiritual for the day.

Mickey often drove like the proverbial bat out of hell, taking me on some hair raising rides from JFK airport, through New York City traffic and north to Esopus through blowing snow, the likes of which caused this Memphis girl to squeeze her eyes shut and pray for deliverance.

A great teacher she was, showing a couple thousand SRL members what the word commitment meant. Not telling us. Showing us. Every retreatant got a monthly newsletter. Every retreat captain got a small gift in the mail from Mickey for producing a retreat somewhere in the country after corralling twenty to a hundred or so seekers of greater wisdom for managing life’s bumps. The gifts were small plastic butterflies or a borderline tacky memento filled with love and whisked off to the post office.

Mickey, you were the good luck charm in the pocket of Father Fred and many of the rest of us for many years, committed to making the Serenity Retreat the template for Twelve Step retreats that it is today. It worked, Mickey. You can rest easy.

Mickey Lacey, Good-Bye

by Kathy Schinker, Secretary, Serenity Retreat League

Dear Mickey,

You have left too many footprints in our memories to ever be forgotten. We will miss you.

You firmly believed in the Serenity Retreat League. You said Yes to becoming Secretary to Fr. Fred Lawrence, the League founder. You made sure he made his flights on time, regardless of which airport he might have flown in or out of. I know he loved you for being there for him,

He helped, as did our program, take you and your husband Tom to places you only dreamed about and introduced you to people, like me, all over the country you might otherwise not have gotten to know. And we are deeply grateful.

We met in Dallas, Texas, in the early 1970s at the second Serenity Retreat Captain’s Conference. I do not remember what it was that attracted me to you, maybe it was our like-mindedness about Serenity Retreats. After another Conference in New Jersey, some of us went into New York City. You shared a crowded hotel room and introduced us to “the City.”

We made sure we got together at subsequent Conferences and any time in between. You and Lorraine introduced me to betting on card games like Go Fish.

Sometimes your determination ended up creating some awkward situations. We drove into the City from New Jersey to see Cats. You fretted because Tom did not leave you the right set of keys. The key you used started the car but, after the play, the car would neither budge nor start. You paid three non-English speaking fellows to take the entire starter out. I had to stick my finger in the hole in the steering column and hold something (I did not know what) so we could drive off. Later we had quite a laugh about it. In you haste, you took the trunk key instead of the starter key!

You would drive anywhere and we had wonderful excursions to the Wilson House in Vermont, and to Massachusetts and New Hampshire to see the blazing colors of fall. You drove me to the beaches in New Jersey to satisfy my love of the ocean. We spent money at the outlet mall in Redding, Pennsylvania, drove through the Colorado Rockies in a snow storm, and back to Staten Island from a Captains Conference in Queens without any brakes.

Our trip to Oberamergau was over the top! We talked about it for years. It did give you an exercise in trying to “herd cats”, as your job was to get people to the bus on time. That did not seem to be a trait for many of us “program people” on the tour.

I loved it when you came to Nebraska to visit me and got to meet my friends who fell instantly in love with you. You were introduced to our wide open spaces and I nearly had you convinced you could relocate here. However, you could not be that far away from the family you loved.

Mickey, we laughed and cried together over miracles and sadness, gains, losses and the everyday changes in life. You are with Tom and Meghan and I know they and the Lord welcomed you with open arms. Your generosity, loyalty, loving presence and your tenacity to “keep on keeping on” have earned you peace in Heaven.

With love, Kathy



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