By Dan Russo
When speaking in Dubuque recently, the U.S. council president for the Serra Club International cited student debt and the lack of engagement with the church of young people once they go to college as two of the biggest obstacles to vocations to the priesthood and religious life in America today.
“Not everybody’s called to be a Serran, but everybody’s called to foster vocations,” said Greg Schweitz. “The church needs young people aspiring to the religious life and priesthood. Their needs are different than they were years ago.”
Schweitz visited the Dubuque area chapter of the Serra Club, an international lay organization dedicated to supporting religious and priestly vocations. There are over 200 clubs in the United States. They base their mission on the legacy of St. Junipero Serra, a Spanish missionary who ministerd in the Western U.S..
Schweitz based his remarks at the local club’s annual banquet Nov. 5 on the talk Pope Francis gave to the club’s international convention in Rome on June 23, saying members have to “always move forward” (siempre adelante). The phrase is what St. Junipero wrote to his parents upon leaving for America.
In order to help young people considering vocations, Schweitz said the club has been partnering with organizations such as the Laboure Society to help pay off student debt and to forward Catholic students’ names to campus ministry offices at colleges and universities so they can make contact with newcomers. Schweitz also spoke about the 31 Club, which focuces on prayer. Participants say a special prayer for vocations one day a month.
The local club welcomed Schweitz to their annual Mass and the banquet that followed, where new members were inducted. The Dubuque area club is currently the only one in the archdiocese and is looking to expand the Serran effort to other areas. For more information on the Serra Club International, visit https://serraus.org.
PHOTO: (L to r): Pat O’Neill, Darlene O’Neill, Greg Schwietz, JoAnn Olson, Chuck Olson. Schwietz is the president of the U.S. council of Serra International. The O’Neills and Olsons are members of the Dubuque area chapter of the Serra Club. (Contributed photo)