November 1, 2019

2019 Vocations Awareness Supplement

Serra Club members show promoting vocations is the work of all Catholics

Members of the Indianapolis Serra Club assist in serving a meal at Bishop Bruté Days, an annual vocations camp and retreat for junior high and high school boys, held at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis. They are, from left, Rick Santangelo, Jim Cain, Louise Collet and Joe Dwenger. Also pictured is Ann Berkemeier, right, the wife of Serran Art Berkemeier. She often assists at club events. (Submitted photo)

Members of the Indianapolis Serra Club assist in serving a meal at Bishop Bruté Days, an annual vocations camp and retreat for junior high and high school boys, held at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis. They are, from left, Rick Santangelo, Jim Cain, Louise Collet and Joe Dwenger. Also pictured is Ann Berkemeier, right, the wife of Serran Art Berkemeier. She often assists at club events. (Submitted photo)

By Sean Gallagher

In September, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson announced a restructuring of the archdiocesan vocations office that emphasizes a team approach to promoting priestly and religious vocations in central and southern Indiana.

A dedicated group of archdiocesan lay Catholics, though, has worked as a team for nearly 70 years in this vital task of all the Church’s faithful.

The Indianapolis Serra Club, founded in 1951, has as its mission to nurture vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life throughout the archdiocese.

It is part of Serra International, an organization founded in Seattle in 1935 to promote such vocations there. It was named after St. Junipero Serra, an 18th-century Franciscan missionary priest to the West Coast who was declared a saint in 2015.

As Catholics in other parts of the country embraced the same mission as the original chapter in Seattle, including those in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, the Serra Club became an international organization.

The Indianapolis Serra Club sponsors an annual vocations essay contest for students in the seventh through 12th grades in schools in the archdiocese. It presents awards to eighth-grade altar servers across central and southern Indiana. And it hosts an annual appreciation dinner for archdiocesan seminarians.

Members, who are known as “Serrans,” also assist with vocations promotions programs of the archdiocesan vocations office, such as Bishop Bruté Days, an annual vocations camp and retreat for junior high and high school boys, held at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis.

They also gather monthly for a vocations Mass and make praying for vocations a priority in their lives of faith.

“Being part of the Serra Club has enhanced my faith life through my interaction with the seminarians,” said Rick Santangelo, past president of the club and a member of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis. “Their faith is so strong, and they are so focused. It has caused me to deepen my prayer life.

“Going to Bishop Bruté Seminary and taking part in evening prayer is deeply spiritual and moving. All members of the Serra Club have great hope for our Church, having met the seminarians and recently ordained priests. The future of our Church is in good hands.”

Serran Larry Timko of St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg said that the mission of the Serra Club is growing in importance as the broader society becomes more “focused on careers that pay well, not vocations that serve our fellow man or God.”

“Success is defined in dollars, and the idea of becoming a priest, sister or brother gets lost in our quest to get ahead,” Timko added. “Parents, grandparents, friends and relatives are quick to offer young people advice about the best career paths: engineering, computer science, the medical field, or business management. But who says, ‘Have you ever considered becoming a priest or sister?’ ”

That’s where the Serra Club can make a difference, Timko said.

“The need for lay people to pray for and foster religious vocations is very important today,” he said. “Working with the archdiocese, our parishes and schools, we can help make religious vocations a viable and rewarding consideration for our young people as they discern God’s call.”

Father Eric Augenstein worked closely with the Serra Club for more than six years in his role as archdiocesan vocations director. He appreciates how the club’s members see promoting vocations as a responsibility for all Catholics.

“In a way, the Serra Club is the connection between the archdiocesan vocations office and the rest of the [local] Church,” Father Augenstein said. “Serrans are members of local parishes and can help keep vocations promotion front of mind in their parish. On the other hand, they can bring ideas and resources and people to assist the work that the vocations office does.”

Father Augenstein now serves as archdiocesan director of seminarians and as pastor of Nativity.

Santangelo recommends that all archdiocesan parishes have a vocations committee to help its young members consider if God might be calling them to the priesthood or religious life.

As important as such committees can be, Santangelo also noted the importance of personally offering such invitations—and seeking God’s assistance in this mission in prayer.

“Remember to ask the youth you meet who have the qualities of a good priest or religious to consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life,” Santangelo said. “Most importantly, pray regularly for vocations to the priesthood and religious life that high quality men and women will not only hear God’s call, but respond enthusiastically to it.

“Prayer is very powerful, and the most important instrument we as Catholics have.”
 

(To learn more about the Indianapolis Serra Club, visit https://serraindy.org.)

 

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