Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Toni Pallatto - Florida Catholic
MIAMI | The Serra Club of Miami has been awarded $2,500 for having the largest membership increase in clubs across the United States, and the largest percentage increase in membership.
“This is the third year that Serra Club International has had this membership contest,” said Peter Jude, immediate past president of the Serra Club. “The first year we had a total of six registered members. In the second year, we added 19 members. Then we grew from a small club to the large club category, and this year, our membership increased from 45 members to 94 members.”
The driving force behind the membership increase was board member Evangelina Alonso, chair of the Vocations Program for Serra Club Miami. A parishioner at St. John Neumann, Alonso hosted a Serra sign-up event at her parish.
According to its website, Serra Club International is “the only lay organization aggregated to a primary pontifical work.” A pontifical work is instituted by the Vatican to advance a particular goal of the Catholic Church. In 1941, Pope Pius XII created the Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations, to encourage and coordinate efforts to promote vocations to the priesthood.
Aggregation, or affiliation, to this pontifical work reflects not only specific support from the Vatican for the club’s mission, but also confers special spiritual benefits on all Serrans. In essence, Serra International is the only lay organization sanctioned by the pope for the work of increasing vocations.
Serra Club Miami focuses its works on National Vocations Awareness Week (Nov. 6–11, 2022); the annual Christmas Dinner for Religious (Dec. 4, 2022); the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life (Feb. 5, 2023); National Catholic Sister Week (March 6–11, 2023); the World Day of Prayer for Vocations (April 30, 2023); Religious Brothers Day and Altar Servers Awards (dates to be determined).
“We hope to continue increasing our membership through parishes in Miami Dade County,” said Sharon Utterback, current president of Serra Club Miami. “Because we have gained 49 new members, our challenge is to retain our members, and continue to grow.”
She noted there is no age minimum or limit, as the club has members in their teens and all the way up to almost 100 years old. Dues are $92 a year, but spouses receive a 50% discount as do members under age 35.
“Our goal is to have a Serra member in every parish who is willing to initiate the Vocations Prayer Chalice Program, with the pastor’s approval, or if the parish has an active Vocations Prayer Chalice Program, encourage the participants to become Serra members,” Utterback said.
The Vocations Prayer Chalice Program involves parish families — a different one each week — taking home a chalice at Sunday Mass, receiving a blessing from the priest, and then praying for vocations every day of that week as a family. Many archdiocesan parishes took part in the chalice program before the pandemic, but halted it since.
Utterback said that the club has “a very interesting line-up” of speakers scheduled for their monthly membership meetings and a program of exciting activities for member engagement, including Adopt-a-Seminarian and Seven Serrans.
“When you adopt a seminarian, you are assigned one or two seminarians at St. John Vianney Seminary to pray for, encourage, and support throughout the year,” Utterback said. “The Seven Serrans program involves at least one Serran’s commitment to pray for our (archdiocesan) Vocations Director each day of the week. We currently have two teams of seven each.”
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