Serra Vocation Programs
As Pope John Paul II wrote, "The fostering of vocations cannot be considered a marginal activity, but must be incorporated fully into the life and activity of the community." The programs that follow are some of the many diverse ways in which Serrans accept the challenge of fostering vocations in their community and Church.
Called By Name
Called By Name is a national, parish-based program begun by the Serra Club of St. Louis. It has two objectives; to raise the consciousness of Catholics to foster vocations and to surface the names of individuals who may possess the qualities necessary for a vocation to priesthood or religious life.
The 31 Club
The 31 Club is a prayer program in which a Serran chooses one date of the month when he or she will go to Mass and pray for all priests, sisters, brothers, deacons and lay ministers who have served or are serving his or her parish, and that future church vocations will be forthcoming from the parish.
Altar Server Programs
Serra Clubs recognize the valuable service young men and women nation-wide offer the church by serving their parish community by awarding certificates and medals to them. At the same time, Serrans help create an awareness of religious life as a vocational choice.
Serra Vocation Essay and Poster Contests
Serra club sponsored essay and poster contests are very rewarding experiences for the young people in our parish communities. These contests go beyond their competitive nature toward developing and nurturing an awareness of vocations in our midst. The young people are given the opportunity to thoughtfully reflect on the meaning of ministry and vocation in the context of their everyday life experience.
These programs offer an opportunity to develop better relationships with those in ministry, thinking about ministry and with God. Serrans are instrumental in coordinating these programs in parish schools and religious education programs.
Students from St. Joseph and Holy Angels Junior High Schools, Aurora, IL shared these posters with us. (Sponsored by the Serra Club of Aurora, IL)
The Scouts have especially tailored programs of religious formation to offer a scout the opportunity to develop better relationships with the world and with God. Serrans assist the Diocesan Committee on Scouting in a variety of ways, ranging from paying the salary of a Catholic chaplain at a summer camp to assisting in organizing and operating a scout retreat.
Single Adult Discernment Weekend Retreat
The Life Awareness Weekend Retreat program targets single adults, ages 18-50, who may be interested in pursuing a religious vocation. During the retreat, adults listen to presentations and participate in discussions as they discern their vocation. Support groups are available after the retreat to help continue the discernment process begun during the weekend.
Explore Week for Boys
Explore Week is a vocation awareness program for boys in grades 7 through 12 sponsored by the diocesan vocation office and in cooperation with local Serra Clubs that teaches about the priesthood and vocations in general. The program provides the means for young men to reflect on what God may be calling them to do.
Insight for Girls
Insight is a summer weekend experience for young women in junior and senior high school who are interested in exploring their Catholic faith, the vowed religious life, and the challenge of leading a Christian life.
Friendship programs are one-on-one projects that demonstrate a Serran's affirmation of vocation through personal, on-going contact. Through the use of cards, remembrances and gifts, Serrans remember an anniversary, a birthday or a holiday and thank the priest, seminarian, brother or sister for his or her tireless work and commitment to the Lord.
Sports and Cultural Events
These large-scale programs provide priests, brothers, seminarians, and sisters with an opportunity to step back from the daily pressures of vocations and ministry and relax in a casual, supportive atmosphere.
Dinners, Luncheons & Appreciations
Whether formal or informal, dinners, luncheons, and appreciations show priests, brothers, seminarians, and sisters that Serrans support their work through the sharing of bread at a common meal. These events are an opportunity to talk about the work of the club and what it has accomplished as well as listen to what the bishop envisions for Serra or what the newly-ordained priests are looking for in their relationships with Serrans.
Parish Vocation Resources
Serra International produces various materials for displays in church vestibules and rectories, including three brochures on parish vocation committees, "7 Steps to Forming a Church Vocation Committee in Your Parish" and "15 Ways to Promote Church Vocations in Your Parish."
These Parish Bulletin Clips provide every parish and Serra club with a short bulletin insert that is either a brief vocation message or a message by "Padre Serra" for your use in your weekly bulletin. These bulletin articles raise the level of awareness for vocations as well as inform potential members about vocations and the vital work Serra does.
Prayer programs focus on vocation affirmation in the context of a prayer-filled environment. They include Serra Day of Recollection, Family Prayer Program, and Ministry Affirmation Program.
To Establish Parish Vocation Awareness Program
1. Identify what needs are not now being met by other agencies and programs, what the competencies of your club members are, how the diocesan/deanery committee suggests that your Serra Club can contribute, and establish your objectives.
2. Decide what individuals or groups you wish to concentrate your efforts on:
i. Grade School Students who begin to make their vocation decisions early in life, some while in grade school.
ii. High School Students in public as well as Catholic schools who need to look at a Church vocation as a possible life choice.
iii. College Students who often see the need for a reevaluation of their career choices as time goes on and find that Church ministry fits well with their new values.
iv. Potential Permanent Deacons, those eligible men who are interested in serving the Church in this particular ministry.
v. Altar Servers who are already involved in service to the Church and should be encouraged to pursue ministry in the Church.
vi. Parish Religious Education programs which educate a large number of Catholics who attend public schools and adults. Serrans should ensure that there is a specific unit on Church vocations in religious education classes and assist with or direct such units as needed.
vii. Youth Groups and parish youth ministry programs offer opportunities for Serrans to introduce Church ministry activities.
viii. Military Personnel who are returning to civilian life, often are re-examining their values and evaluating the priesthood and religious life as a possible vocation.
ix. Young Adult Ministry programs that serve single young adults who need whatever assistance Serrans can give.
x. High School Seminarians who need help deciding wisely regarding their future.
xi. College Seminarians who feel the pressure of intellectual and spiritual excellence at this level and need Serrans' support to continue to make their studies meaningful and purposeful.
xii. Theologate Seminarians who continually need to be exposed to experiences that broaden their perspectives and test their vocations.
xiii. Priests and Religious (ten years and less) who need help to develop their potential during a period of adjustment.
xiv. Priests and Religious (over ten years) who, in the words of one priest, experience the ideal relationship between older priests and religious, and Serrans like this:
"I look around this room and see people who have stood shoulder-to-should with me in building the Church these past twenty-five years. You were there when the Church became vitally involved in human relations.
You were there in the beginning days of Cana, Christian Family Movement, urban planning, inner city work and now you are creating a Christian concern for the problems of underdeveloped countries.
You have brought your professional talents to the exacting task of Christianizing the world, and you have shared those talents with your priests and religious. What better way could you have fostered vocations?"
xv. Serrans who need to be informed on, dedicated to, and motivated to work for Church vocations.
xvi. Parents who are called upon to help their children answer questions like: What vocation shall I choose? Shall I marry, remain single, or follow a Church vocations? What professions require my particular talents? How can one know what to do? When should the choice be made?
3. Pinpoint what changes you aim to bring about among each of these groups: increase their knowledge about Church vocations, seminary and religious order requirements, develop different attitudes, motivation and inspiration, self-understanding, etc.
4. Put the club vocation objectives in writing. Include the vocation objectives in the Club President's Goal-Setting Report and an update on your program in the Club President's January Report.
5. Select appropriate programs. Consider the following:
1. Which programs have a track record of success?
2. Which programs encourage longer-lasting, effective results?
3. Which programs use the unique characteristics or abilities that your Serra Club has to offer?
6. Use the many ideas, aids, brochures and manuals available through the Serra International office. When you require specialized help, consult your district governor or the International office.
7. Publicize your programs in diocesan and parish publications. Coordinate these efforts with the club vice president of communications.
8. Follow through constantly.
Pray! Invite! Encourage! Affirm! Vocations
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