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USA Council Continues to be Ready to Serve You

Last Updated: June 02, 2014

A Letter from the Executive Director

09 May 2014

Dear Serrans and Friends of Serra,

May the love and joy of the Easter Season be with you and your families.

There are several reasons for us to be joyful this Eastertide, as our beloved apostolate for vocations continues to grow and improve. Signs of growth include, but are in no way limited to: the chartering of the Serra Club of Caltagirone in Italy, the upcoming charter ceremonies for the Serra Club of Northeast Houston, Texas, in the U.S.A. and The Serra Club of Ourinhos in Brazil, a recent request from Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and member of the Council of Cardinals, to charter a Serra Club in Bombay, and a request from the Most Reverend Paul Ssemogerere, Bishop of Kasana-Luweero, to bring Serra into Uganda. These activities would not have happened without the work of dedicated Serrans throughout the world.

From an operational standpoint, Serra has taken several steps to reduce overhead and serve Serrans throughout the world more efficiently and effectively*. The offices of Serra International, Serra's National Council for the United States, and The Serra International Foundation have been consolidated to one location, located at 333 West Wacker Drive, Suite 500, Chicago, Illinois, 60606. Serrans are always welcome to visit the office when they are in Chicago. This consolidated office has significantly reduced the overhead required for Serra's operations, including rent, office equipment leases, and utilities. This consolidated office has also lead to closer collaboration between Serra International and Serra's National Council for the U.S.A. This collaboration includes a joint invoicing system for Serra Clubs in the U.S.A.

Serra Club Treasurers in the U.S.A. will receive one invoices for both Serra International and U.S. Council Dues during the upcoming dues cycle. This joint invoice allows Serra Clubs in the U.S.A. to write one check to cover all of their dues and submit one membership roster - saving time, effort, and money.

Serra is moving forward with a focus on vocation. We are all one in the Body of Christ: "If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy." 1 Cor. 12:26. Serra has suffered from divisiveness, which distracted Serrans from their work of fostering and promoting vocations for far too long. Now is the time for us to move forward, not looking back, to share in the joy of the work of our apostolate. I am very happy to report that the lawsuit between Serra International and Serra's National Council for the U.S. has been dismissed with prejudice, effective today, and cannot be refiled or reinstated.

Finally, contributions to The Serra International Foundation have increased sharply over the last 8 months, thanks, in part, to a large donation from the estate of a Serran who has gone on to his eternal reward. These contributions will enable The Serra International Foundation to support more diocese, seminaries, and houses of religious formation throughout the world.

This is just a brief list of recent "highlights," as there are many more wonderful things taking place throughout the Serra world. I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide us as we move forward.

Mary, mother of vocations, pray for us!

John Liston
Executive Director

*Several operational improvements have been implemented in accordance with the Resolution of Unity, including the establishment of a Consolidated Administrative Office ("CAO") and the upcoming joint dues invoicing.





























 

 

JOINT STATEMENT TO SERRANS


This message is to further amplify the release in the Bellringers of January 16, 2013, and to encourage Serrans to support their leaders in their effort to establish enduring peace and unity in Serra International.
The SI Board met in Orlando, Florida on January 11 to 13, 2013, it took important decisions to move Serra forward.
The highlights are as follows:

  1. 1. The Resolution of Unity of November 14, 2012 recommended by the Dialogue Committee was discussed and approved unanimously.
    2. The USA Council approved the same (November 14, 2012) Resolution of Unity with some amendments. The differences are to be further moderated once again by the Dialogue Committee after which any outstanding differences are to be referred to Episcopal Advocate Team for advice, counsel and final decision. Their decision after approval by SI and USAC Boards shall be binding on both parties. Consequent to this SI will immediately reinstate the US Council.
    3. The SI Board will immediately direct its Legal Counsel to prepare an agreement to discontinue the legal action without costs, subject to USAC entering into the same agreement.
    4. In our effort to achieve significant cost savings in Serra’s administration, both offices of Serra International (SI) and USA Council of Serra International (USAC) are to be consolidated into one. Recognizing the different roles SI and USAC perform to advance the cause of Serra, the Dialogue Committee will work with the Executive Director to determine how the staff in the office will function harmoniously.
    5. Immediate search for an Executive Director has commenced under a Search Committee which is being assisted by a professional Search Firm (Moran Company) with specific expertise with non-profit organization. This process is expected to be completed by June 1, 2013.
    6. The Dialogue Committee will continue to function to facilitate the smooth implementation of the “Resolution of Unity” until the Consolidated Office takes effect.

Let us all join together to build a new, united and better Serra that we can be proud to hand over to future generations. We commend you to continuous prayer to Junipero Serra and our Blessed Mother for success in this new initiative for the good of Serra and its mission.

John Tomi Asenuga, President Serra International  - Greg Lynch, President USA Council of Serra

Resolution of Unity

To: United States Serrans

From: Greg Lynch, President

On Nov. 14, 2012, a Dialogue Committee consisting of three members from SI and three members from USAC, whose goal was to open communications and work to resolve the conflict between both parties, submitted a proposed Resolution of Unity to the USA Council Board.

Our Board studied the document and accepted most of what was set forth in it. However, the Board suggested amendments to the resolution which they determined to be fair, equitable, and which protected their Council, its members, its assets, and ability to fulfill their Serran mission to vocations in this country. Their proposed new document was dated Nov. 28, 2012, and was submitted to the SI Board for their review on Dec. 1, 2012.

On Jan. 11-13, 2013, the United States Council Board met in Chicago, where they awaited news of the SI Board’s vote on the Nov. 28, 2012 draft (the SI Board was meeting simultaneously in Florida). Instead, the SI Board asked the USAC Board to reconsider the Dialogue Committee’s unchanged Nov. 14 proposal.

In its deliberations, the USAC Board accepted the Nov. 14th proposed Resolution of Unity, except for specific points including, but not limited to: dissolution of the Council, consolidation of offices, hiring, management and supervision of the Council staff, and fundraising, all of which will again be referred to the Dialogue Committee.

In accordance with our agreement, items that cannot be resolved by the Dialogue Committee will be referred to the Episcopal Advocate Team for their advice and guidance toward our long-term resolution. The Most Rev. Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago, Most Rev. Peter Christensen, Bishop of Superior, WI, and Most Rev. Elden Curtiss, Archbishop Emeritus of Omaha, NE, will be members of this team.

Furthermore, the USAC Board maintains its position that for true healing to happen, the SI Board should show good faith by immediately withdrawing its lawsuit against the council with prejudice (that is to say, so that it can never be brought up in a court of law again).

The President of Serra International and I will be publishing a joint letter later this week.

Respectfully,
Greg Lynch, President
 

Warmest Christmas Greetings

As the Advent season of preparation comes to an end, I, all of the leadership and staff of the Council wish to extend to you our personal warmest Christmas greetings.

We all can remember those Christmases past when as children we couldn’t wait for December 25 with great joy and expectations. We were caught up with the preparations and perhaps the travel to gather with our grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins for the holiday celebration.

May we as adults look forward to Christmas with same great joy and expectation we had as children, and give thanks for all of the blessings we received during this past year.

We are especially thankful that at their January 2013 meeting, the Serra International Board will be voting on the agreement to resolve the differences that have caused great concern between us.

May the peace of Christ be with you and your families today and throughout the new year.

Sincerely,
Greg Lynch

President, Serra's National Council for the United States, Inc.

 

A Resolution Is at Hand

To: United States Serrans

From: Greg Lynch, President

The past two years have been a troublesome time in the life of Serra. Fortunately, I believe that a resolution is at hand.

During the past several months, members of the USA Council and Serra International Board serving on a joint SI/USA Council Dialogue Committee have dedicated many hours of travel and discussion to directly address the issues that have created tension and dissension within our Serra organization ranks. The efforts by this committee have resulted in significant progress toward resolving these issues which currently divide us and have moved us back toward unity. This came forth as a proposed Resolution of Unity and was presented by the committee to both boards.

This week, the USA Council Board considered and approved a Resolution of Unity document which is now on its way to SI President Tomi Asenuga. The next step will be for the USAC Board revised Resolution of Unity to be presented to the Serra International Board (SIB) for approval.

Meanwhile, plans for a New Vocations Organization (NVO) which had been readied in case of failure to reach such an agreement are now placed on hold. While we do not know the exact timeline for the SIB to process the Resolution of Unity, we believe that President Asenuga will proceed with seeking the approval of the SIB as soon as possible. After it is approved by the SIB, the USA Council will be reinstated and there will be no need for the implementation of the NVO.

A great deal of gratitude goes out to the dedicated Serrans who assisted in the development and distribution the NVO Manual. In the process, many good ideas were garnered which, when refined and implemented, will strengthen and improve the services the USA Council will provide the clubs within the United States.

I want all Serrans to know that we have a very impressive, dedicated leadership in the USA with whom I am proud to serve. They have all contributed greatly to developing this opportunity to move forward.

The mid-November court ruling by Judge Cohen protects both the USA Council's corporate status and its assets; therefore, all current club dues and those dues that are being withheld or are in arrears will be used in their entirety to support the USA Serra clubs and to expand the Serra mission within the United States. When the Resolution of Unity is approved by both boards, the legal action will be dropped, the NVO work will be suspended, and the USA Council will be formally reinstated.

Our first nationwide step forward will be at our USA Council Board and committees gathering in Chicago for the SuperWeekend on Jan. 11-13, 2013, and the District Governors and Regional Directors Planning Conference on Jan. 10. All Serrans are invited to attend and to join the important work of Serra within the United States. To obtain registration information, please contact our Chicago office at 888-777-6681 or check online at www.serraus.org. This will be a wonderful opportunity for us to begin the new year with our Council focused on moving forward in the spirit of Father Junipero Serra . . . Always go forward, never turn back.

Respectfully,
Greg Lynch, President

 

A message from our Episcopal Advisor, Bishop Christensen

To Serra Clubs and Fellow Serrans:

The DVD is a message from our Episcopal Advisor, Bishop Christensen complimenting the great things that have been accomplished through Serra, and a reflection on the current and new opportunities available to us in the future commented on by Greg Lynch, Dan Jones and Judy Cozzens. It was never designed to be a "How To" DVD on a NVO. NEVER.

Instead, the DVD contains positive encouragement from our Bishop and Serra Leaders to our clubs to get back working for the mission of Vocations. There is no other DVD planned at this time.

Newman Connections is part of a collaborative between them, College Connection, and the USA Council. The purpose of this collaboration is to promote and support young college age Catholics people to find their home at the local Newman Center or college campus ministry program and to become engaged in their faith, not abandon it. We know a certain number of young people involved in college campus ministry programs consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life during or after college years. The future work of Serra Clubs, Serrans and Newman Connection/CCC will enhance and grow this opportunity.

This collaboration may take form in a number of ways, both as a active or financial supporter by a local club or Serran with a local college Newman Center or campus ministry including Focus, Saint Paul’s Outreach, etc. This effort complements and takes the "feeder program" of College Connection to a new level. Those Serra clubs who have been active promoting CCC in their area will see the fruit of this collaboration earlier than others.

Vice President Bob Labat and Judy and Jack Cozzens just completed a three day trip to meet with the leadership of Newman Connections this past week. They have returned very excited about the significant impact this collaboration will have on our Catholic young people. Shortly a full report on the results of this planning will be sent to all Serra Clubs. Very powerful. Thank God for the opportunity to have even more effective tools to accomplish the important work of vocations at this important level.

May Our Blessed Mother continue to guide us in this endeavor!

Greg Lynch

President, USA Council

 

February 21, 2012

To: Club Treasurers
Club Presidents
District Governors
District Governors Elect
USA Council of Serra International Board

From: Kurt Metyko, President, USA Council of Serra International

Subject: Response to Serra International’s February 11, 2012 Letter

Why this letter:
Recently, Serra International (“SI”) published a letter in the Bellringer dated February 11, 2012, suggesting that Serrans are falling victim to “misinformation and speculation” about the dispute between SI and Serra’s National Council for the United States (“USAC”). The referenced “misinformation and speculation” is not identified, making it impossible for USAC to respond specifically. However, there are certain facts that Serrans should be aware of regarding the situation. SI’s communications appear to have further obscured these facts, rather than to have clarified the situation.

The lawsuit:
We are all well aware that USAC and SI have a significant disagreement about the propriety of SI’s resolutions attempting to disband USAC. As a result of this disagreement, SI filed a lawsuit against USAC asking the court to find that SI properly exercised its authority regarding the dissolution of USAC and the takeover of its assets. The case remains pending and the court has yet to rule.

As part of the lawsuit, however, the judge did rule on a request from SI for the court to issue a preliminary injunction ordering, among other things, that USAC cease all operations with respect to Serra International's Clubs and members in the United States. The court denied SI’s request because SI failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits.

The basic facts of the dispute as we see them:
USAC recognizes that SI is the parent organization, but does not think that means that SI's board can do whatever it wants for whatever reasons it wants. Rather, the SI Board must operate within the provisions of SI’s Constitution and Bylaws as approved by its member clubs. In this case, USAC does not believe SI’s actions were a valid exercise of its authority. This position is not a personal attack on any of the SI board members or others involved in the decision. However, USAC strongly believes that SI’s Bylaws and Constitution clearly do not allow it to disband USAC in the manner that was chosen.

The SI Bylaws provide that Serra Councils “may be formed by the Serrans or Serra Clubs in any particular country or region.” (SI Bylaws, Article IX) Thus, it is Serra Clubs that chose to form a Council to assist in the administration of the clubs in their region. The SI Bylaws specifically allow SI to suspend or revoke the membership of a Serra Club (SI Bylaws, Article VII, Sections 12-15) but there is no similar provision in SI’s Bylaws suggesting that SI can suspend or revoke a Council. Such a provision could have been written, but was not. Therefore, it appears that only the Council’s Clubs have the authority to terminate their Council.

SI’s Bylaws do provide that SI can withdraw “approval” of a Serra Council in the following limited circumstances:

The board of trustees of Serra International may withdraw its approval of any Serra Council if it determines that the Serra Council is not conducting its activities in accordance with that Serra Council’s duly adopted constitution and bylaws or in accordance with the Constitution and bylaws of Serra International. (SI Bylaws, Article IX)

USAC additionally finds the SI board’s resolution attempting to disband the Council improper because USAC has acted in accordance with its own and SI’s Constitution and Bylaws, and SI has not demonstrated otherwise.

SI has presented various assertions of how USAC failed to act properly. Those assertions are either vague or unspecific, or factually wrong. USAC has asked for specific information supporting the assertions. Little supporting information has been provided. Further, even if SI’s claims were factually correct, USAC disagrees that the identified actions violate its own or SI’s Bylaws and Constitution.

When the US/Canada Council was initially formed in 1994, SI turned over most administrative tasks and responsibilities to the new Council. In keeping with this, almost 2/3 of SI’s then $56 “mandatory” dues were assigned to the Council with SI’s portion dropping to $20. Since then, USAC has moderately increased its national dues, for which the USA Clubs voted approval. SI has significantly increased its dues over the same period. Specifically, between 1994 and 2012, USAC’s dues increased from $36 to $45 (25%) while SI’s dues increased from $20 to $47 (135%).

USAC sees neither logic nor fairness in SI’s claim that USAC is duplicating administrative costs because of the existence of two offices. It was SI that set up the duplicative services when it decided in 1999 to move out of the offices it shared with USAC. USAC is willing to consider co-locating the offices again, as long as each Board retains management control in its appropriate areas of responsibility.

These facts are the basis for USAC’s disagreement that it is incurring unnecessary administrative expenses. Contrary to SI’s claims, it is SI who appears to be incurring unnecessary administrative expenses. Similarly, a simple review of the available financial statements of USAC and SI makes it abundantly clear that USAC has responsibly managed its finances while SI has not.

USAC questions SI’s claim that USAC must be dissolved because of declining membership. Membership declines today are present in many areas of the Serra organization and in many other service organizations as well. Why is USAC being singled out and eliminated as a Council because of this issue? Are Councils to be eliminated everywhere membership declines? What metrics are used to measure the amount of decline that leads to the elimination of a Council? Why is a decline in membership a violation of SI's or USAC's Constitution and Bylaws? SI has not answered these questions and has, instead, refused to provide USAC the information that backs up its claims. In spite of these tough times, it is interesting to note that, even though overall membership has declined, since 2007 almost 5,000 new Serrans have been brought into the organization in the United States and 22 new Clubs have been chartered.

Ongoing attempts to resolve:
It is critical for all Serra Clubs to know that USAC has been attempting to prevent the escalation of this dispute and to resolve it without court intervention from the beginning. We did everything possible to carry out the Omaha Agreement, unanimously accepted by both Boards in 2008, which established a process for dealing with real or perceived issues between the two organizations. However, the SI Board chose to ignore this process. Since then, the reason no meaningful settlement discussions have taken place despite USAC’s requests for such talks is that up to now

SI’s decision makers have taken a no compromise position. They have insisted that USAC cannot continue to exist. We had hoped that the SI Board’s recent motion to dialog was a meaningful break through in this respect but the agenda for the talks has bogged down due to SI insisting that USAC accept certain preconditions. Now, having failed to prevail thus far in court, SI appears to be attempting to “dissolve” USAC by encouraging Serra Clubs to pay increased Serra International dues (levied only on US clubs) and not pay USAC dues. This is an unfortunate method of resolving the dispute as it only harms the overall organization. USAC’s position has always been that both organizations’ legitimate dues should be paid despite the dispute.

Voluntary versus mandatory dues:
Now SI asserts that payment of Council dues are voluntary because Councils are allowed only to “request dues” and “...there can be no sanction of any kind” for clubs that don't pay Council dues. To us, these conclusions seem clearly contrary to the clear language of SI's Bylaws.

The SI Bylaws do not talk about Councils being allowed to “request” dues. The SI Bylaws (Article XI, Section 9) authorize Councils to determine dues “payable” to the Council and SI policy (SI Policy Manual, pg. 33) talks about Councils being authorized to “collect” dues to defray costs. A reasonable person would understand, and thousands of US Serrans over the last 18 years have understood, these provisions to mean that payment of both legitimately determined SI and USAC dues are part and parcel of being a member of Serra International in the United States. Indeed, prior to this dispute over the continued existence of the USA Council, there has not been any suggestion by SI that this was not the case.

SI's argument that there can be no sanction of any kind for clubs that refuse to pay Council dues also seems contrary to the provisions and language of its Bylaws. Article VII, Section 13, authorizes SI to discipline Serra Clubs for failure to conform to the provisions of the SI Bylaws. It seems clear to us, that SI could sanction clubs for non-payment of legitimate dues payable to Councils, if it wished.

Final thoughts:
Despite the court’s denial of SI’s request for an injunction ordering USAC to cease all operations, and the lack of a court ruling on the validity of SI’s actions, SI is now proceeding as if it obtained the injunction and its actions were proper. These issues are at the core of the lawsuit and, until they are resolved, USAC legally continues to exist and operate as a Council of Serra International.

USAC believes that Serra Clubs in the USA need and deserve their own Council and that USAC serves USA Clubs well in support of their vocation work. Moreover, we are convinced that we have conducted our activities in accordance with both the SI and USAC Constitution and Bylaws.

Although I am sensitive to how tired the Serra membership must be to all these letters, to not answer incorrect facts implies agreement with them. I believe an unbiased evaluation of the facts can only lead to the conclusion that there is a place for USAC in the Serra organization and US Clubs should not be denied the representation of their Council.

Mary, Mother of Vocations, pray for us.

Sincerely,

Kurt F. Metyko, President
USA Council of Serra International

Response to Serra International’s February 11, 2012 Letter (Adobe PDF - Download)
The Bellringer dated February 11, 2012
2007 Omaha Agreement - Archbishop Curtiss Remarks

 

January 31, 2012

To: Club Treasurers
Club Presidents
District Governors
District Governors Elect
USA Council of Serra International Board

From: Kurt Metyko, President, USA Council of Serra International

Subject: Statement Re: SI Dues Invoice January 2012 and Memo

I apologize for adding more input to a subject so perverted from our mission but the second paragraph of John Woodward’s memo (attached - click here to download and read Mr. Woodward's memo), and the only addition to President Wong’s letter, sent out with Serra International’s January 2012 invoice has created a maelstrom of confusion. What is currently before the Circuit Court of Illinois is in fact the appropriateness of SI’s action against its USA Council! In the interim, USAC certainly exists and has every right to collect its dues. The Serra International Board does not dispute that USAC exists or how could they vote to enter into dialog with us or form the joint committees on Father Serra’s 300th birthday and on office co-location?

It is ironic, and of historical interest, that originally the SI and USAC offices were combined and that Serra International insisted on moving to separate offices. USAC’s President at the time argued long and hard that the offices be kept together.

I want to reiterate that the payment of “National Dues in the United States” as shown on SI’s January 2012 invoice is completely voluntary. Also, to be eligible to vote at the SI Convention in Providence, you must be current with your SI dues through their fall 2011 billing.

Mary, Mother of Vocations, pray for us.

Sincerely,
Kurt F. Metyko, President
USA Council of Serra International

January 28, 2012

To: Club Presidents
Club Treasurers
District Governors (U.S.A.)
District Governors Elect (U.S.A.)
USA Council of Serra International Board

Subject: January 2012 Status Report - Statement Regarding SI Dues Invoice

The purpose of this letter is to bring you up to date on USAC/SI events that have transpired so far this month.

On the recent weekend of January 13, 14 and 15, the Serra International Board met in Chicago. I attended the beginning of the Saturday afternoon session to hear Cardinal George speak. He said that although his capacity as Advisor was not to direct the Board in any way, he didn’t feel any Bishop would choose the civil courts as a means to settle differences. After the Cardinal left and just before the SI Board went into closed session, I let them know that I felt that good Christians should be able to settle the issues through a thorough discussion of the issues and that hopefully common ground could be found for compromise if necessary.

An item had already been put on the Agenda concerning withdrawal of SI’s lawsuit against its USA Council. After I left, a motion to withdraw the lawsuit and enter into meaningful dialog was made and seconded. During the discussion an amendment to the motion was made to split the original motion into its two parts. This amendment was accepted and passed. It is my understanding that action on withdrawal of the lawsuit was tabled indefinitely due to the parliamentary question of whether a 2/3 vote or a simple majority vote was necessary to pass the motion. I further understand that the motion to enter into meaningful dialog with USAC passed nearly unanimously. As I write this, the details of this dialog are being worked out with SI Past President Tomi Asenuga, who is remaining in this country until March to facilitate the talks. I see this as a step forward in the hope for peace.

On January 17, 2012, a clerk for the judge presiding over the lawsuit received arguments and responses on two motions – one from SI asking for dismissal of USAC’s affirmative defenses and the other from USAC compelling SI to answer previous interrogatories concerning their finances and international membership trends. The judge set February 27, 2012 to rule on these motions. However, since then a new judge has been assigned to the case and this date could be pushed back. Serra International’s original request for an order that USAC’s operations be transferred to a receiver was denied and SI has not prevailed on any argument related to the merits to date. A decision on the merits will be at least six months, if not a year or more, away.

On January 25, 2012, U.S. Club Presidents began receiving the attached letter (Click here to download a copy of President Wong's letter) with Thomas Wong’s signature dated January 19, 2012 and concerning their soon forthcoming January dues statement. Unfortunately, I have found, as you too may, that the letter is inaccurate, confusing and unclear. The first paragraph contains a significant inaccuracy. The third sentence has the incorrect statement that consolidation of the two organizations’ offices was called for in the Omaha Agreement. The exact recommendation of the December 3, 2007 Memorandum of Agreement was, “By June 1, 2008, a joint task force of an equal number of members for SI and USAC respectively to examine the consolidation of offices and make a recommendation to the two boards by January 1, 2009. One additional non-Serran member will also be appointed to ensure an objective viewpoint.” Such a task force was constituted with two members from each organization and a non Serran chairman. This task force concluded its work and filed its Final Report on November 19, 2008. It unanimously concluded that it was not advantageous overall to pursue the goal of office co-location at that time. The Co-location Task Force mentioned in paragraph two of President Wong’s letter, and whose report was filed on October 8, 2010 to the SI Board alone, was constituted solely of SI members. Unlike the Omaha Agreement task force, the SI task force had no representation or substantive involvement of the USA Council in its deliberations and had no neutral third party member. The office consolidation proposed to us as a result of this SI task force involved not just co-locating offices but merging the offices under the sole direction of the SI Executive Director and the SI Board. We have never been against looking at co-locating offices, but not under those terms.

At the August SI Convention in Ottawa, Thomas Wong and Tomi Asenuga (past president of SI) told Joe DeLoy (past president of USAC) and me that we misunderstood those terms and that the autonomy of both organizations would be maintained. In a good faith effort to settle the issue out of court, we then agreed to appoint members to a joint committee to work out the mechanics of accomplishing co-location. Three members from each organization were promptly appointed, with the chairman from SI but, as far as I know, this committee has yet to begin discussions.

The bottom line of the letter from President Wong appears to be that Serra International is adding a new item to its invoice called “National Dues in the USA” and is seeking to have clubs pay these new dues along with their usual SI dues. Any new dues for SI, regardless of what they are being called, cannot be levied compulsorily by SI until it is approved by the delegates at a SI International Convention (Article XI, Section 2 of the SI Bylaws). The USAC dues were lawfully voted on pursuant to USAC’s Bylaws and thus are binding on USAC members. The SI “national dues” were not voted on pursuant to SI’s bylaws and thus are not binding. Therefore, we understand the “National Dues” payments requested by this letter to be meant to be made on a voluntary basis only.

In the last paragraph of his letter, President Wong suggests that “….prompt payment of National Dues in the United States will demonstrate that your Serra Club wishes to support the progressive roll-out of the full range of member support services…….” Of course, the opposite is also true. In either case, the choice is up to the club.

However, because USAC disputes whether the imposition of these dues is allowed under SI’s Bylaws, if SI accepts U.S. dues, they should be placed in a properly segregated account not to be touched until the court rules or the parties resolve their differences. USAC’s legal counsel has requested through Serra International’s attorney that this action be taken but, as of this date, has not received a response.

This brings you up to date and I hope this adds some clarity to President Wong’s letter.

Please continue to pray that the Holy Spirit be with us all during this difficult time.
Sincerely,

Kurt F. Metyko
President, USA Council of Serra International

 

December 24, 2011

Dear Serrans:

The status of the court proceedings between the USA Council and Serra International are as follows: On Nov. 28, 2011, the judge gave Serra International’s attorney 21 days to file a response to our motion to compel Serra International to furnish their financial statements and worldwide membership data, as originally requested in the initial interrogatory phase. The USA Council will then have 14 days to answer his response. The judge has set a hearing for Jan. 17,
2012 on these submittals. The most asked question of our office staff this year has been “Are our club dues being spent on the lawsuit?” The answer is NO. USAC established a Legal Defense Fund for this purpose with contributions coming from Board members, clubs and individual Serrans. Please consider making a contribution to this fund. Donations not used will be transferred to the Bishop Britt Fund to be used exclusively for vocations work.

I would like to thank all the clubs for their dues payments during this difficult time. It has allowed us to be on budget for dues income through November and to continue to provide the services you are accustomed to. Having visited several regional and district conferences this Fall, what I am particularly proud of during this time of much angst is the terrific job you all have done implementing programs in your clubs which will directly result in an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. In my own District 10, under the leadership of Governor Margo Geddie, we sponsored a conference with the author of “To Save a Thousand Souls”, Father Brett Brannen, at the University of St. Thomas in Houston.

Over 150 people had the opportunity to listen to Father Brett’s lecture about the amazingly beautiful life of the priesthood. Several young men in the audience have begun the discernment process as a result of hearing Father Brannen and reading his book, which we distributed at the event. One of the members of the Houston Club contributed funds to Father to have the book translated into Spanish and this will be available on Jan. 5, 2012. Subsequently, Houston Vocation Vice President Ted Wendstrat manned a table at the Archdiocesan Youth Conference and gave away hundreds of books. He did the same at the Youth Ministers Conference where Judy Cozzens also sponsored a booth and made many new connections for College Connect. District 10 also has “Called by Name” going on in a couple of parishes and held a successful
fundraiser for the Archdiocese of the Military where they netted over $67,000. This is just a sample of great works going on all over the USA this year!

At the beginning of November, I attended a Conference in Rome marking the 70th anniversary
of the Vatican’s Congregation of Education and also marking the 60th anniversary of Serra being
attached to it. On Friday we attended Vespers at St. Peter’s Basilica celebrated by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Although his talk was in Italian, you could not miss “Junipero Serra” and “Serra International.” SI President Thomas Wong had a private audience with the Pope after the service. Thomas and I sat down together for about an hour after the end of the conference on Saturday. There doesn’t appear to be any unscalable obstacle separating us. I believe Thomas would like to work out a peace during his presidency. To me, the biggest needs are increased communication and respect. The SI Board can take a big step in this direction by withdrawing the lawsuit at their Board Meeting this January 13-15.

Finally, I would like to share the sentiments of a Christmas card I received from the Shalom Center Executive Director, Dan Kidd, and staff. I am on the Board of the Shalom Center which is a counseling center for priests and religious located in Splendora, Texas, about 30 miles north of Houston. The card reads: “May Christ come to you this Christmas with the gift of Love, the blessing of Hope, and the promise of Peace.” Need more be said?

Mary Mother of Vocations and Blessed Junipero Serra, pray for us.

Sincerely,
 

Kurt F. Metyko, President, USA Council of Serra International

2007 Omaha Agreement - Archbishop Curtiss Remarks

March 23, 2011
 

Dear Club Presidents:

Our Chicago office recently had a call from a Serran who was delighted, but somewhat surprised, that someone was there to answer the phone.

The purpose of this letter is twofold. I want to assure you we are there to answer the phone and are doing business as usual. Indeed, we are ready and able to provide you and your clubs the full range of services you have come to expect from the U.S. Council.

I also want to bring you up to date on issues with the Serra International Board. As you know, the SI Board at a closed Board Meeting in December of 2010 and by secret ballot, voted to illegally order the USA Council to cease operations and surrender all its assets to a receiver appointed by the SI Board. The U.S. Council Board met in an emergency session and unanimously voted not to cease operations and not to “cooperate” by voluntarily surrendering all of its assets to SI’s appointed receiver when she appeared at our Chicago offices on February 18. The Council Board took these actions because the Serra International Board voted to approve an action that was outside of their Bylaws and because such an action would negate the Council Board’s legal fiduciary responsibilities for management of USAC as a State of Illinois nonprofit corporation. To date, no legal actions have been filed by the Serra International Board.

Last week, USAC President Elect Kurt Metyko, Executive Director Ed Verbeke, and I met with our Episcopal Advisor, Bishop Peter Christensen, of the Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin, to brief him on the current situation and to seek his advice. Bishop Christensen strongly agrees with USAC Leadership that the United States should have its own Council and that we should submit our concerns to professional mediation with representatives of the Serra International Board. With the Bishop’s endorsement we plan to pursue this avenue.

The USA Council Board members believe strongly in the objectives and purposes of Serra and cherish our identity as Serrans. We further believe that since the USA Council came into existence in 1994, the Council has well-served the Serra Clubs and members in the United States by being:

  1. 1. Transparent in our decisions and actions: e.g., open meetings at which any and all Serrans are welcome; audited financial reports available on our website.
    2. Responsible in delivery of services to our members: e.g., merchandise; advice to club inquires; a very useful and well-regarded website; development of new programs in response to club requests
    3. Fiscally responsible: e.g., managing our affairs to break even on an annual basis ( please refer to our Audited Financial Statements on our website.)
    4. Creative in developing and maintaining vocation programs: e.g., College Connection for Catholic; Priesthood Sunday; Parish Liaison Program; and other vocation programs
  2. 5. Pro-active in recruiting and retaining members: e.g., assistance with forming and chartering new clubs; development of a nationwide membership strategy; development of training manuals and materials for recruiting new members and retaining existing members (available on website).
    6. Respectful of the long and proud heritage of Serra.

Additional information is available on our website and all members of the USA Council staff and leadership stand ready to answer your questions and serve your needs.

Mary Mother of Vocations and Blessed Junipero Serra, pray for us.

Sincerely,
 

Joseph R. DeLoy, President, USA Council of Serra International

March 14, 2011

My Dear Fellow Serrans,

It is time to get on our knees to pray for Divine guidance and protection in our efforts to resolve the issues dividing Serra. What better way than to pray the Novena to Blessed Junipero Serra? (Click here for a copy of the Novena to Blessed Junipero Serra.)

I invite and encourage the entire Serra USA leadership and membership to pray the novena during the holy season of Lent for a peaceful and just solution to this impasse and for the future of Serra and its mission.

Please pass on this invitation to your Serra constituents and colleagues. Let's get ourselves and all USA Serrans on our knees and pray for the intervention of our patron, Blessed Junipero Serra. We need his help at this time of need.

Mary, Mother of Vocations, and Blessed Junipero Serra, pray for us.

Sincerely,
Joseph R. DeLoy, President, USA Council of Serra International

 

March 9, 2011

Dear USAC Regional Directors and District Governors,

Your Executive Committee met in Chicago this past weekend and developed a strategy to address the issues between SI and USAC and to resolve them quickly and totally.

Further, we unanimously resolved that:

We are first and foremost Serrans. We are committed to the objectives and purpose of Serra. As a national council, we recognize the need for and desire a united and effective Serra. We want to be an integral part of transforming Serra into a truly strong and effective organization.

We recognize that much work lies ahead of us. In the meantime, we encourage all our fellow USA Serrans and Serra Clubs to continue to support and do the work of our Serra mission.

Please share this information with the Serra Clubs in your regions and districts.

Mary, Mother of Vocations, pray for us.

Sincerely,

Joseph R. DeLoy, President, USA Council of Serra International

 

March 1, 2011

Dear Fellow USA Serrans,

My letter of February 16, 2011, said I would provide you with a more detailed response to the SI Board’s resolution to dissolve the USA Council.

Our response to Serra International’s allegations are limited because the allegations are very general in nature, unspecific, and without facts to support the determination that USAC is not conducting its activities in accordance with its own or SI’s Constitution and Bylaws. (Click here to read our more detailed response to Serra International's allegations.)

Also, I present for your information the January 11, 2011, email from USAC, which Mr. Asenuga referred to in his letter of February 22, 2011. This email was a follow up to informal discussions Mr. Asenuga and I had in Chicago after the Serra International Board meeting concluded on the morning of December 12. My email had nothing to do with the SI Board resolution to terminate the USA Council for the simple reason that I did not know about it. No mention of the resolution was made to me by anyone on the SI Board during that December weekend, and neither I nor USAC leadership learned of the resolution until well after the attached email was sent to Mr. Asenuga. (Click here to read my email to Tomi Asenuga dated January 11, 2011)

I encourage all USA Serrans and Serra clubs to continue all you have been doing to support vocations and the work of Serra.

I also encourage you to let both Serra International and USAC know what your concerns and desires are. We are, after all, here to serve you. Most importantly, I encourage you to pray for all of us that we can resolve our current disagreements with peace and justice.

If you wish to contact me on this matter, please do so by email at jrdeloy@serraus.org.

Mary, Mother of Vocations, pray for us.

Sincerely,

Joseph R. DeLoy, President, USA Council of Serra International

 

February 16, 2011

Dear Fellow USA Serrans,

The Serra International Board has launched a unilateral attempt to dissolve Serra's Council for the United States and take over the Council's assets.

Late Friday afternoon, February 11, 2011, a letter1 from SI's attorney and a copy of a December 12, 2010 resolution of the SI Board to dissolve the Council were hand delivered to the U.S. Council's Chicago office.

We are utterly dismayed and saddened by the Serra International Board's actions. The SI resolution was adopted in a closed, secret session and delivered to us without warning or opportunity to be heard in the deliberations leading to it.

The resolution, whether implemented or not, will do drastic and almost certainly irreparable damage to the unity, trust, and ultimate effectiveness of USA Serrans and our vocation ministry. The accusations against the U.S. Council in the resolution are demonstrably inaccurate and/or irrelevant to disbanding the Council. The action contradicts the very positive comments made by Serra International President Tomi Asenuga just last month at our January Super Weekend about the many good things USAC, its committees, and volunteers are doing.

We have engaged legal counsel who has advised us that SI cannot implement its resolution or seize USAC's assets as it is trying to do. We plan to follow advice of counsel in dealing with this matter, and we will keep you informed of developments. A more detailed response to the SI resolution will follow.

In the meantime, we ask for your prayers for a peaceful and just resolution of this matter.

If you wish to contact me on this matter, please do so by email at jrdeloy@serraus.org.

Mary, Mother of Vocations, Pray for us.

Sincerely,

Joseph R. DeLoy, President, USA Council of Serra International

1A copy of the letter may be obtained from the USA Council of Serra International by calling toll-free 1-888-777-6681.
 

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