New Serra International President Kurt Metyko’s speech at the 2023 Convention…
Your Eminences, your Excellencies, Reverend Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, fellow Serrans and guests:
First, I would like to thank Chainarong, Niphon and all the members of the Serra Council of Thailand for their wonderful hospitality and for a Convention that will be hard to match! After 55 years of membership in Serra International, it is quite an honor and a responsibility to be selected as its President. It is also a special honor to follow in the footsteps of my father, Frank Metyko, who was Serra International President from 1977 to 1978. The only other Serran to accomplish this was Matt McCloskey, IV, President from 1984 to 1985, who followed his father Mathew McCloskey, III, President from 1963 to 1964. Coincidentally, the younger Matt graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Civil Engineering Degree, as did I.
I would like to thank my predecessor, Greg Schwietz, for a job well done. He dealt with a lot of tough issues head on and made sure the Board made decisions on them rather than passing them into my term. His energy knows no bounds and it seemed that he was constantly on the go, in and out of the United States, for the cause of Serra. How about a round of applause for Greg.
The last few years have been difficult for all of us because of Covid. Going to Mass virtually and not receiving the Holy Eucharist was something I hope is behind us for good! However, it did force us into learning and working with Zoom and it was excellent for our prayer life! Hopefully we keep the same zeal for prayer but are also back to having Serra meetings face to face.
Also we should be striving for even more action-oriented vocation activities. I feel the USA Council’s Ignite program that encourages the formation of Parish Vocation Committees and the Serra Sprint program that engages Serrans to implement Serra vocation activities, such as the 28 Spark tools, within schools and parishes, are taking us in the right direction. The parish is where the rubber meets the road. Also, we shouldn’t be afraid to collaborate with other vocation ministry sources.
My parish vocation committee, composed of three Serrans and one non-Serran, is reading Rhonda Gruenewald’s book “Hundredfold: A Guide to Parish Vocation Ministry” (VocationMinistry.com) which has a lot of good ideas.
Last month the Serra International Board made the decision to change its IT provider to a company called Club Express for reasons of cost and functionality. This company serves the membership and communication needs of hundreds of organizations in the United States and several global organizations. Although this new portal will be similar to what we have now, it will require a new learning curve, so try to be patient. My goal for the near future is that every Serran will be able to go to their computer or phone and visit any other club in the world and, through online translation tools, be able to read a little bit about that club’s history, favorite vocation programs, and calendar.
Last month the SI Board also approved outsourcing a good bit of our communication work such as the website and Serran Magazine publication to Vianney Vocations. Sam Alzheimer, the founder of Vianney Vocations, has been here covering the Convention in that capacity and we look forward to this relationship going forward!
The Serra International Strategic Plan ends this year. We will hold a meeting of Serra leadership in Chicago this August 11-13 to review and extend this plan. Council representatives will be asked for input ahead of the meeting and can attend by Zoom if they can’t come in person. We have engaged an outside firm, Revolutionizing Missions, to assist with the development and implementation of this plan.
I want to thank all those on the Serra International Board and all Serrans around the world for their contribution of time, talent, and treasure to the furtherance of Serra’s wonderful mission. In particular, I want to thank Cindy Bell, who is here tonight. Cindy has served on the Serra International Board, the USA Council Board and is now on the Serra International Foundation Board. Her father, Jim Madigan, was SI President from 1975 to 1976 and served on the SI Board with my father. Cindy has been a great support to me through the years and is the ideal example of being a great Serran!
When my father gave his acceptance speech in San Francisco in 1977, his love for Serra was such that he had prepared 15 typewritten pages to express his emotions, thoughts and goals. About one third of the way through he could sense the audience’s restlessness and he found a way to bring it to an early end. He told me later that he had learned something that night — “Keep it short stupid!”
So, in closing, I would like to invite everyone to next year’s Convention to be held in the United States at New Orleans, Louisiana. Y’all “Come and See”!
Thank you again for this great honor!