Do you know a family member, friend or daily mass attendee who would like to attend a meeting and find out more about Serra? For information about our meetings or if your are interested in joining please email Susan Barr.
Dear Fellow Serrans and Followers,
This month we experience the solemnity of Holy Week and the joy of Easter Sunday. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, returned to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, with full knowledge of the Passion before Him. He celebrated His Last Supper with his apostles on Holy Thursday, only to be arrested, tried and crucified on Good Friday, dying as He did for the forgiveness of our sins.
But in accordance with the words of the prophets and in the fulfillment of His own promise, Jesus rose to eternal life on Easter Sunday, proving forever His divinity.
These events are at the core of our faith – the reason we believe that Jesus is with us each and every day. We experience Him in the Eucharist and we pray to Him for the redemption of our souls, knowing that He is always in our hearts.
May the strength of our beliefs provide us comfort at this Holy time of year and throughout our lives…and may we reverence Christ’s sacrifice, knowing that he did so for us and that He will be with us forever.
God bless you all,
Serra Club of Bridgeport
Visit us on FaceBook during Lent and Easter
Join us on FaceBook for Daily Readings, Listen to Daily Reading on your way to work, Reflections, Meditations and Prayers for Vocations. Come Visit!
“The Serran Litany. We’re called: It’s our Vocation” by Greg Schwietz
What (or who) is a Serran? If you can nod your head yes to any of the statements in my proposed “Serran Litany,” then you have the makings of a Serran. Through your involvement with Serra, you now more clearly see yourself to be a leader in your church, your community and your family. Your membership in a good, healthy Serra club should be an inspiration to you; an inspiration for you to grow in your faith and in your action. Serrans are committed to a great mission.
From the early days of Serra, our founders set the course of our organization to be two-fold: 1) to affirm, encourage and foster vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life; and, equally important, 2) to assist its members to grow in their Catholic faith and to bring that faith into the world for its benefit.
The first of these two mighty pillars of Serra includes what many of us readily identify as our mission, namely, fostering vocations.
But it is the second pillar which makes us “Serrans for a lifetime.” What brings us together is our sense of spiritual growth and brotherhood with fellow Serrans. Twice monthly internal programs within Serra clubs around the world must be fundamentally oriented toward the spiritual growth of its members. Too many times, club meetings become more social, or what I call “informational,” rather than “inspirational.” It is my belief that the glue of Serra is the spiritual camaraderie that is found and nurtured at the club level. That is why extra effort must be made to attend Serra meetings regularly. Both pillars of Serra need our full commitment.
The Serra mission is very focused and unique within the Catholic church. Only Serra has a formal charge within the Church hierarchy to be THE lay vocations support organization. It was established early in our existence, on May 6, 1951 by Pope Pius XII, that Serra became formally aggregated to the Church through its formal structure, the Pontifical Work of Priestly Vocations. This underscores our belief that being a Serran is a special calling, involving special work, requiring our recruitment to this important mission of the best possible leaders found within our communities.
Serrans are do-ers. Sitting on the sidelines, not getting involved, or continually patting yourself on the back for past involvement is not enough. The challenges of the Church remain today and your involvement today is needed.
Do not recruit prospective members to just sit and watch. The greatest mistake I have made in recruitment was to invite good, able people to the table of Serra and have no meat to give them in the way of meaningful, relevant activities, thinking that they would catch the spirit of Serra by osmosis. Club leaders must be prepared to properly welcome new Serrans into their club and to lay before them the noble work of the club, engaging their immediate commitment to those activities. The second greatest mistake is to invite people who cannot or will not make a time commitment to the club’s activities. For the well-meaning Catholic who likes what he or she hears about the Serran mission, but cannot find time to participate, another time will have to do. And in God’s grace, he or she will find that time.
So, our recipe for a healthy club includes the Serran Litany. We need Serrans who are leaders, people who are do-ers, those who say “Yes!” when asked. We need those who are committed to the dual Serra mission, which is focused on fostering religious vocations and their own spiritual growth.
It’s a calling. It’s a gift. It’s our legacy.
The Serran Litany
- We’re Catholic leaders
- We’re committed to our mission
- We’re focused on vocations
- We’re do-ers
- We rise to the challenge
- We’re called “It’s our vocation”
Greg Schwietz – President, Serra’s National Council for the United States. firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayer is our most powerful weapon in the battle to grow all Vocation’s
31 Club for Vocations
You can Pray with us daily on Facebook and Twitter . Please come Pray for those discerning and for those already in a Vocation.
Serra Bridgeport Club Rosary
Please join Serra Bridgeport on the second Saturday each month at 11:00 am as we join our voices to pray the Rosary for existing and new vocations. You can join us right from the comfort of your home! All are welcome and encouraged to call in. (you do not need to be a Serra member.
All Serrans, family members and friends are invited to be a part of this monthly international prayer of the Rosary for vocations. We begin our prayer on the last Saturday of each month at 8:00 AM CDT (-6.00 GDT) .
Prayer for Seminarians
O Lord Jesus Christ, great High Priest, I pray that You call many worthy souls to Your holy priesthood. Enlighten the Bishop in the choice of candidates, the Spiritual Director in molding them, and the professors in instructing them. Lead the seminarians daily in Your unerring footsteps; so that they may become priests who are models of purity, possessors of wisdom and heroes of sacrifice; steeped in humility and aflame with love for God and man; apostles of Your glory and sanctifiers of souls.
Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for us.
Families and Vocations – What the Popes want parents to know about vocation promotion
One aspect of the family’s particular “vocation” is to inspire the children of the family to discern and follow their own vocations from God, be it to marriage or to religious life. In this article we will focus on the Church’s insights about religious vocations in particular, which always need special emphasis and care due to their innate vulnerability as a spiritual calling, one that is out of the natural order so to speak. To embrace a religious vocation also requires an extra measure of discernment and encouragement that goes beyond the discernment of natural attraction to the married state.In all of its teachings, the Church always understands “family” to mean the “Christian family,” that is, the basic unit of society as well as the “domestic church” in which God is worshipped and relationships with Him formed. The Church’s catechesis on the Christian family’s role in vocations promotion may be divided into four fundamental categories. Each of these categories relies on the others and together they form a unified picture of the family’s proper “mission” with regard to religious vocations.
Family as the Context for the Call
The Church believes that the family is the “seed ground” for religious vocations, the first school of faith in which children learn to recognize the call of the Lord and respond to it. Like young Samuel who heard the Voice of the Lord in the quiet of the Temple (cf. 1 Sam 3), the family provides the holy space in which the Lord’s Voice may echo and be recognized in the hearts and souls of young people.
The number of creative terms Church documents use to describe this reality is truly astounding. The family is described variously as a “school of deeper humanity,” “nursery of vocations,” “seedbed of vocations,” “domestic church,” “initial seminary,” “sanctuary of love and cradle of life,” “natural setting” for the care of vocations, “natural and fundamental school for formation in the faith,” “first experience of the church,” etc. In essence, the Church believes that the family is the proper environment for their children to listen to the divine call and to make a generous response.
Furthermore, the strength and stability of the family represents the condition for the growth and nourishment of vocations because stability creates an environment of harmony, love, and joy in which to discern spiritual realities. Above all, the family is the place to discern the Lord’s particular call to holiness for each of its members.
The Church uses an astounding term to describe the role of parents in handing on the Christian faith. It says that parents are the “first preachers of the faith” to their children, a task they carry out both by word and by example. Their preaching of the faith is likened to a “witness” and a “ministry” to their children, for which they are specially endowed with grace that comes from the Sacrament of Matrimony. Parents who love their own vocations – and who love each other – are the best witnesses of vocational love to the children and have many privileged years when the children are young in which to cultivate the life of love.
Love – and diffusing a culture of love – is the family’s essential mission. It is a task of evangelization both internally, to each member of the family, and externally, to the world. Church documents highlight the role of intact families with two parents, both mother and father, playing complementary roles of carrying out this mission of love; however, the Church has always manifested the greatest care for divided families and believes in the ongoing witness of single mothers and fathers to their own children’s faith and vocational discernment.
Role of Formation/Education
In Church parlance, “education” always means “formation in the faith,” not necessarily book education in schools. Since the Church’s mission is the salvation of souls, the inculcation of human and gospel values is the essential concern of all Christian education at any level but fundamentally so at the level of the family. From time immemorial, official church documents have spoken about – and defended – families’ and parents’ obligation to be the “primary educators” of their children.
“Formation” in the faith, then, is primarily a work of catechesis. To the extent that catechesis and secular learning go together, they strengthen each other; authentic human values and authentic religious values are never in conflict. The family is the environment in which human personality and affective maturity are to be formed in children so as to prepare them for productive life as Christian adults and citizens.
Parents are to zealously impart this catechesis to their children, most especially in the formative years of infancy and childhood, and accompany them with age-appropriate catechesis and Christian formation as they go through adolescence. Adult accompaniment is especially important in the difficult moments when young people struggle to choose their proper vocations. Parents are to help their children to “listen” and “respond” to own personal call from the Lord who they already know intimately through years of faithful formation.
Church documents also place a high value on the parents’ cooperation in the work of Christian formation with educators and pastors. Perhaps it is best to say that parish catechetical programs and schools are encouraged to cooperate and coordinate with parents who have the primary responsibility for and authority over their children’s education.
Above all, the Church asks the family to provide spiritual support for those of their members who feel the call to consecrated life. The family is to provide a “ministry of encouragement” to them and to cooperate joyfully in the vocational decision and journey. This cooperation takes the form of both aid in discernment and support for the decision to embrace a religious vocation. Parents, by accompaniment and dialogue, offer that positive help for a child to follow the Lord’s call. At the very least the Church asks that parents and families not place obstacles to one of their number who wishes to follow the Lord unreservedly in the religious life.
The role of prayer in the family is indispensible, not only for the growth of the life of faith but most especially in the planting and growth of a religious vocation, which in itself will be dedicated to the ministry of prayer and liturgy in the future. To this, the Church counsels that young people have generous contact with priests and religious in order to see living symbols of the vocations they wish to embrace.
Finally, parents are even encouraged to pray that one or more of their children may be called to religious life – if it be God’s Will – so that an abundant blessing may come down upon their family and that their married love might find a full expression of its spiritual fruitfulness.
Learn About the Labouré Society
- There are an estimated 10,000 individuals discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life in the US annually
- 42% are blocked from pursuing this call due to education loans*
- The average vocational ‘aspirant’ in Labouré owes $60,000 in education loans
- Most religious communities cannot assume this debt
- Most dioceses will allow some debt but have a limited threshold for acceptance
*(NRVC, Vision Study, 2010)
Solution Our Aspirants
- Discern a vocation and are accepted into a diocese or religious community
- Are blocked from entering or continuing vocational formation due to student loans
- Apply to Labouré and meet intake requirements
- Are trained in ethical fundraising – empowered with practical tools, personal mentoring, and accountability
- Share their vocation stories and participate in building a culture of vocations and evangelization
- Raise funds for Labouré to benefit many vocations
- Are awarded monthly payments toward their education loans
- Receive final award payout after three years and enter freely into a lifetime of service as a priest, sister, or brother
The Labouré Society
- Works with each aspirant to ensure all personal means are utilized to mitigate the loan amount (loan consolidation, asset review, financial counseling, employment, etc.) prior to acceptance into the program
- Trains each aspirant in biblically-based philanthropy
- Forms multiple classes of aspirants annually
- Mentors each aspirant to build a unified team; each individual works toward the collective goal
- Provides ongoing accountability to ensure proper preparation and completion of personal fundraising plans
- Equips each aspirant with an online fundraising platform for real-time donation processing, reporting,
assessment of goals and class interaction, marketing and communications
- Facilitates ongoing communication and updates between aspirants and donors after formation entrance
- Manages aspirant award payments while they are in formation
- Completes award payout after 3 years active formation
We ask all parishes to post these bulletin inserts monthly. We provide new inserts in each newsletter.
In talking with your children, have you raised the call to Church ministry? The process of answering God’s call begins in childhood. Throughout adolescence and adulthood, the attitudes assumed in childhood begin to influence the course of one’s life. A vocation or a talent will not grow to fruition unless it is nurtured in childhood and adolescence by a parent.
Often children talk about what they want to be “when they grow up”: doctors, lawyers, athletes, nurses, movie stars, teachers, carpenters. They may talk about these roles, but do they ever talk about being a priest, sister or brother? You are the hand of God – encourage your children to consider Church ministry.
Visit the new and updated Vocations Web Site .
Do you know a young man discerning priesthood? Encourage him, pray for him, offer him your support! Consider introducing him to Fr. John Connaughton, Director of Vocations. Please contact Fr. John at email@example.com.
“The Lord anointed us in Christ with the oil of gladness, and this anointing invites us to accept and appreciate this great gift: the gladness, the joy of being a priest. Priestly joy is a priceless treasure, not only for the priest himself but for the entire faithful people of God: that faithful people from which he is called to be anointed and which he, in turn, is sent to anoint.” – Pope Francis, Chrism Mass Homily.
When a new prospective member is invited to join Serra, what is it that he or she is joining? When we talk about preparing our elevator speech of what Serra stands for, we must remember that while Serra is mostly known as a great vocational activity club, it is much bigger than that.
The third objective of Serra provides the answer: We recognize the importance of working to support each other’s “Call to Holiness.” An emphasis on good, regular programs is what I consider to be the glue of a good club and the essence of what it means to be a Serran. Let’s face it, the activities and fun are great, but we are about more than that. The ones that stay in Serra are drawn to the spiritual camaraderie and growth.
Long time Serrans are also those who find like-minded Catholics to share in their faith journey, and then they invite them to join those who share our faith journey. Although we are rightfully proud about our Priest affirmation activities and our well documented support of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, it is also the essence of our organization that in Serra we will find and nurture Catholic leaders for our respective Catholic communities.
Our Serra work is our outreach and part of the dynamic dimension of a club is how we grow as Catholics. No matter what your activity level, whether at the district or club level, we want to look at the essence of what goes on in our club meetings and look for remedies for apparent club ills, such as, lack of recruitment, or clubs who are slowly losing their vision of our Serra mission. If we work on the internal activities and efforts of our clubs, we will find that fixing our house will improve recruitment, our attractiveness as a club, and likewise improve our retention of new members. We must make our new members a vital part of the club by requiring their involvement in meaningful club activities and inviting them into the spiritual communities growing within our clubs. There is no place in Serra for fence sitters.
Serra has a lot to offer new prospective members. Let us continually look for good, strong members and not be timid about inviting good strong leaders to join us – prospects who will bring new ideas and more energy into the club as we move them forward. It is a fact of life that in any organization we will lose good Serra members through natural attrition caused by death or work relocation. But it is truly sad if our loss is due to our inability to convey the benefits of belonging to a dynamic, relevant, important organization.
Let’s Expand the Serra project. It is the responsibility of all Serrans to look for and recruit good Catholic leaders – Serra prospects who will join our noble mission of encouraging, supporting, fostering and affirming vocations to the priesthood and religious life. At the end of the day, all Serrans must recognize that they are members of the membership committee.
St Junipero Serra, Guide our efforts.
Mary, Queen of Vocations, pray for us.
Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations
The Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations is privileged to assist men and women to follow God’s call to service in the Church through a life of consecration. We operate theSt. Joseph Student Debt Relief Grant Program for religious life and the St. John Vianney Student Debt Relief Grant Program for the parish priesthood. These grants eliminate the delay many young people encounter as they struggle to pay off their student debts before they can enter religious life. A grant pays candidates’ student loan payments while they are in formation for either religious life or the priesthood.
We invite you to share in the graces that flow from these vocations by making a donation to the Fund for Vocations .
Do you know of a worthy vocations-centered project that needs funding to help it succeed? Let the project directors know about the Serra International Foundation!
The objectives and purposes of The Serra International Foundation are:
- to fund programs that foster and promote vocations to the ministerial priesthood of the Catholic Church as a particular vocation to service; and
- to fund programs of formation for men and women in consecrated religious life in the Catholic Church; and
- to enhance the recognition of Serra International as the global lay apostolate for vocations in the Catholic Church.
The Serra International Foundation is accepting grant applications through September 30, 2016. Download a grant application here.