Young women from Toronto are heading to Nunapalooza this summer to check out the Sisterhood. 

Published in Youth Speak News

An innovative new program being launched in Ontario schools to discuss vocations is founded on a basic premise.

Published in Canada

TORONTO - Serra Canada is celebrating 60 years of encouraging and supporting those who are contemplating religious life.

“We need priests particularly to keep our Church alive,” said Anne MacCarthy, current president of the Serra Club of Toronto Downtown. “We just know that there’s a strong need for vocations to the priesthood and religious life in the Catholic Church, so we think we have a stake in it.”

The Toronto club is part of Serra Club International, a non-profit organization of lay Catholics devoted to praying and fostering vocations to the priesthood and other consecrated religious vocations.

MacCarthy and her husband Dane have been part of Serra since 2003. One morning, a neighbour walked her home from church, she recalls, and asked her to join Serra.

“I hauled my husband behind me,” she jokes, and nine years later, even their son has joined the club.

“The harvest is plentiful, the labourers are few, and so we want to encourage as many priests and potential sisters to come forward,” Dane, treasurer and past president of Serra Club of Toronto Downtown, said on the importance of lay people in another’s vocation. “Being a priest or a sister is not an easy task, so we’re trying to affirm those who have chosen that path as well. We offer our support to them and we pray for them on a regular basis.”

The MacCarthys enjoy the countless speakers the club invites to its bi-monthly meetings. And at the Serra Fall Conference in late September, celebrating the 60th anniversary of Serra in Canada, Anne presented an award to the longest-serving Serran in the world, Vincent DeMarco, who joined the local branch shortly after it was founded.

The Serra Club began in Seattle in 1935. The club was named after Spanish Franciscan Blessed Junipero Serra who founded missions in Mexico and the United States. In 1952, the Toronto Downtown club was the first to open outside of the United States.

There are currently three clubs in Toronto, 15 in Canada and 1,109 in 46 countries across the globe.

Serra Club provides “an opportunity to hear speakers help us with our faith and with matters of day-to-day concern for Catholics,” said Celeste Iacobelli, a past president of the Toronto Central Serra Club and a current board member of the Serra Canada Foundation.

Joining Serra “gave me an opportunity to meet with other like-minded Catholics interested in promoting vocations to the priesthood, interested in supporting our Catholic principles,” he said.

Iacobelli and the MacCarthys agree that one of the most memorable Serran events is the Ordinandi dinner, where seminarians soon to be ordained tell their vocation story.

“It’s the largest gathering of Catholics in the archdiocese of Toronto,” said Iacobelli.

He finds it “particularly satisfying” when students from schools across the archdiocese are invited to the dinner.

Some students attend a dialogue session with the ordinandi.

“It gives them a wonderful perspective on what it means to be an ordained priest, what went through the process of discernment, how the young men struggled with their decisions in some cases, how they left other careers behind.”

Published in Canada