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Feature News | Monday, September 18, 2023

Fund established in memory of Father Elkin Sierra

New endowment will allow seminarians to go on pilgrimages to holy sites

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MIAMI | Peter Jude met Father Elkin Sierra long before he became a priest, when their work paths crossed in the early 1990s: Jude was the public information officer for Kendall Reginal Hospital. Sierra held the same position with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

“He was just such a beautiful person,” said Jude. “Everything he did in his work life was representative of his faith, his caring and loving as a human being. The beauty is that eventually he became a priest, but before that he lived his faith in all that he did.”

Father Elkin Sierra, 58, who was ordained in May 11, 2019, and died April 11, 2023, said he began to consider a vocation to priesthood during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Photographer: FILE

Father Elkin Sierra, 58, who was ordained in May 11, 2019, and died April 11, 2023, said he began to consider a vocation to priesthood during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Like many others whose lives Father Sierra touched, Jude was deeply saddened by the priest’s untimely death from cancer in April of this year, at age 58.

But Jude and his sister, Cecilia Prahl, found a way to keep Father Sierra’s legacy alive. Using funds bequeathed by their parents in the James and Sallye Jude Charitable Trust, they created an endowment in Father Sierra’s name at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, and seeded it with $100,000.

The Father Elkin Sierra Endowment Fund will make it possible for some of the seminary’s underclassmen to go on pilgrimages to places such as the Holy Land, Lourdes, or World Youth Day.

It’s a fitting tribute because a pilgrimage was a key part of Father Sierra’s spiritual growth and calling. The priest often shared that he began considering priesthood after going to the Holy Land in 2006. He left a 26-year career at Fire Rescue to enter St. John Vianney Seminary four years later, and was ordained for the Archdiocese of Miami in 2019.

Jude noted that many priests and seminarians cite trips to the Holy Land or Lourdes as having a great impact on their spiritual growth. But “not everybody has that opportunity,” he said. “This will help.”

The endowment also is very much in keeping with the wishes of his parents: James, a thoracic surgeon who pioneered CPR, and Sallye, a civic activist for historic preservation and environmental causes. Both were devout Catholics, generous supporters of the archdiocese, and avid promoters of vocations to priesthood and religious life. They established their charitable trust to support the causes they were passionate about, the first being their Roman Catholic faith.

And they were “passionate about Serra International,” said Jude, referring to the organization that promotes and supports vocations. Both James and Sallye, at various points, served as president of the Miami Serra Club, as did Jude most recently. He currently serves as treasurer.

The club, in fact, is giving the first $10,000 donation to the Father Elkin Sierra Endowment. Jude explained that his mother made the donation to the Serra Club of Miami with the restriction that it only be used for St. John Vianney Seminary.

“With her passing (last December) this money still sat there so my sister and I felt that it would be appropriate to make that contribution in addition to the $100,000. So the Serra board of Miami approved it.”

The Father Elkin Sierra Endowment Fund will draw money only from the interest it generates. The principal can never be touched, Jude explained. “The idea is to grow the principal which will grow the interest so that more seminarians can grow spiritually.”

He added: “We want this promoted so that people who loved Father Elkin Sierra will contribute now to this endowment fund.” 

HOW TO GIVE

  • Donations to the Father Elkin Sierra Endowment Fund can be made to St. John Vianney College Seminary, 2900 S.W. 87 Ave., Miami, FL 33165.
  • Donors should submit a letter or specify in the memo of the check that their contribution is for the Father Elkin Sierra Endowment.
  • Donations are also accepted online at www.sjvcs.edu/donate.

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