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1/4/2011 2:58:00 PM
While affirming vocations, club members see their own faith grow
Salem-Keizer Serra Club photo
Sr. Juanita Villarreal greets young people during a vocations information retreat.
Salem-Keizer Serra Club photo
Sr. Juanita Villarreal greets young people during a vocations information retreat.

Arriving in the mailboxes of seminarians all over western Oregon: Holiday cheer from the Salem-Keizer Serra Club. Christmas cards are part of this club’s push to affirm priesthood and religious life by supporting seminarians.  

“Often they tell us how much they appreciate us remembering them, but it’s mutual. In the process of helping them, we’re improving our own faith,” said Martha Blake, past president of the club.

Blake started the group, a mix of young and old, four years ago.

The 15-or-so members meet on first Saturdays for Mass with Father Tim Mockaitis, chaplain of the club and pastor at Queen of Peace Parish.

They reconvene for planning and discussion third Wednesdays at St. Edward Parish in Keizer or St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Salem.

While the seminarians’ education is paid for by their originating diocese, the Serra members aim to make the future priests’ stay as home-like as possible. They take them bowling once a year, treat them to a pizza dinner, and send them birthday cards.

“We support the priests and vocations by affirming them,” said club member Karen Scharosch. And they have fun doing it, she adds.

Serra International, a lay vocation arm of the church, has the mission to “foster and affirm vocations to the ministerial priesthood and vowed religious life in the USA, and through its ministry,” and through that work, further members’ faith.

The organization started in Seattle in 1934, and Padre Juniper Serra, the Spanish missionary, is the organization’s patron.

The Salem-Keizer group, in its fledgling status, often piggybacks off the Serra Club of Portland on projects.

The members, mostly from St. Joseph in Salem and St. Edward, focus their efforts mainly on seminarians at Mount Angel.

“We try to keep the structure as simple as possible to make it easy for people to join and help,” Blake said.

Queen of Peace and the Salem-Keizer club will host Focus 11, a vocations rally on Wednesday, Feb. 23.
Volunteers are still needed to help with the event. To get involved, contact Scharosch at 303-393-1999.

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