The name of the Serra Club of Buffalo may have changed to Mary, Mother of Vocations Ministry but its mission remains the same; to foster and affirm vocations to the ordained priesthood, vowed religious life and permanent diaconate and through this ministry, affirm its members' common Catholic Faith. The Serra Club of Buffalo was connected to the larger Serra USA and Serra International organizations.
Serra International was founded in 1934 in Seattle and has been promoting vocations worldwide ever since. Buffalo started a Serra Club in the 1960s but over time the membership decided that the dues they were paying to the international group could be better utilized right here in Buffalo.
In June 2018, the members voted to sever relations with Serra International and come up with a new name for the now localized vocation promotion group. Father Andrew Lauricella, vocations director for the Diocese of Buffalo and spiritual moderator for the vocation promotion group was in favor of the move. He was aware of other Serra Clubs throughout the U.S. doing the same thing. Father Lauricella brought the idea to Bishop Richard J. Malone, who gave his blessing to leave Serra as long as the group continued to promote vocations within the Buffalo Diocese. After much email exchange over the summer, the group decided on the name, Mary, Mother of Vocations Ministry. The new name more exemplifies the mission of the group. When we were the Serra Club, people often mixed us up with the Sierra Club and I would have to point out that they are the tree planters while we are the vocation growers. The name Serra comes from St. Junipero Serra who founded missions in the southwest part of the U.S. He is much more popular in the west. Not too many people have heard of him here in the East.
Mary, Mother of Vocations Ministry will keep the same involvement it had as the Serra Club. We meet once a month at Christ the King Seminary first attending Mass with the current seminarians and faculty. Then we join them for dinner in the main dining room. We try to sit among the seminarians in an effort to get to know, support and encourage them. After dinner they go to class and we hold our meeting. In the spring we host the Seminarian Family Mass and Brunch. It is much like a parents weekend at a college where the families are encouraged to tour the campus and spend time with their sons. The most anticipated experience of the event is the PowerPoint presentation put together by the seminarians and set to music featuring highlights from their year at Christ the King Seminary. We also send each seminarian a birthday card with money and a Mass intention.
Other events that include a presence at the Curé of Ars Award which supports Christ the King Seminary, attendance at installations and ordinations, assistance at the Altar Server Awards Mass and the Vocation Awareness Poster and Essay Contest, which is open to all Catholic elementary schools and religious education programs. We work closely with Father Lauricella to implement ideas he and our members come up with for increasing vocations within the Buffalo Diocese. Some of these activities have included Breakfast and Games and Bonfire and Games open to all high school and above men who are interested in experiencing CKS in an informal setting. We created bookmarks featuring the seminarians and made them available to parishes so everyone could pray for their discernment. That program grew into the pamphlets and posters now available featuring the current seminarians studying at Christ the King Seminary.
As with any endeavor, prayer is the key to success. MMVM also celebrates many special days set aside to remember and pray for religious vocations such as; National Priesthood Sunday, National Vocation Awareness Week (Nov. 4-10) and World Day of Prayer for Vocations (May 12, 2019) where we traditionally celebrate with a Eucharistic Holy Hour including adoration, song and prayer.
Now, more than ever, we need to support and pray for all vocations whether it be to the priesthood, diaconate, religious or married life. Everyone is called to a vocation and all are called to live out their vocations in holiness. Everyone needs support and encouragement in order to live good and holy lives.
If you are interested in joining Mary, Mother of Vocations Ministry, contact Susan Santandreu for more information by calling 716-649-2058.