Atchison Region granted a new Serra Club charter
by Laurie Ghigliotti
Special to The Leaven
ATCHISON — In an effort to expand the presence of the Serra Club in the archdiocese, the new Atchison Region Serra Club was granted and presented with its charter on March 26 after a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann at St. Benedict’s Abbey church in Atchison.
Benedictine Father Gerard Senecal, chaplain of the club, has been involved in the effort from its inception.
“Mike Haughton, [a] member of the Johnson County Serra Club, first contacted me about forming an Atchison area group. I helped him set up an exploratory meeting that we held at Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison,” said Father Gerard.
The Johnson County Serra Club is the new club’s sponsor. Representatives from this and the other three archdiocesan clubs, along with the southeast Kansas City, Mo., club, attended the Mass in March. Regional director Greg Schwietz and national representative Dan Spencer were also in attendance.
Blessed Junipero Serra, a Franciscan priest from Spain, is known for founding and fostering a string of missions in California during the 18th century. Now a global community named after him links Serra Club members from around the world in a common mission to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life and to promote spiritual growth in the club’s members and others.
The Atchison group is just the most recent community in the loop.
“Only about 13 new clubs are expected to be chartered in the United States this year, and we’re the first one,” said Tim Draftz, president of the Atchison Region Serra Club.
“To form a club requires 25 members to petition for the charter,” he said. “By Feb. 25, we reached that goal by inviting friends to join us at our meetings. We’re still looking to grow.”
The new Serra Club will promote vocations through a variety of programs.
“There is a day of prayer for vocations on May 15,” said Draftz. “We will be distributing programs to parishes in the area that they can use to pray for vocations that day.”
“There is also a program for local high schools to help high school seniors find campus ministries at the colleges they’re going to after graduation,” he added. “We promote that because we know that more vocations come when young people stay in touch with their faith.”
The Atchison Region club will also be helping with the Vocations Fair at Benedictine College April 13.
According to Draftz, Serra clubs have four main ways to help foster and support vocations: pray, invite, encourage, and affirm.
“Anyone can help by praying for vocations,” he said.
“When we talk about someone answering a call for a vocation, there has to be a question: Do you think you have a vocation to the priesthood or religious or consecrated life?” he said. Serra Club members invite others to consider the possibility because, as Draftz said, “you can’t answer ‘yes’ without the question being asked.”
Serrans encourage those who step forward and answer the call by providing seminary visits and an annual luncheon for seminarians and their parents, Draftz said.
And they affirm those already ordained or committed to religious life with an annual dinner for all priests, both from the archdiocese and from religious orders.
The Atchison Region Serra Club meets on the first Tuesday evening of every month at the Atchison Catholic Elementary School chapel. Its first meeting in December 2010 established the form of the meetings, Draftz said.
“We have a Mass for vocations at 7 p.m., followed by a speaker and a brief business meeting,” he said. “After that, most of the members enjoy desserts and a social time.”
Speakers in the past have included Prior James Albers, OSB, vocations director at St. Benedict’s Abbey; Sister Barbara Smith, OSB, vocations director at Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison; Father Matthew Habiger, OSB, past director of Human Life International; and Father Richard Rocha, vocations director for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. The scheduled speaker for May is Sister Mary Antonia, FSGM.