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The 2024 Serra Rally featured talks by priests, bishops, sisters, and fellow Serrans

Mar 30, 2024

By Rachel Balducci

Serrans from near and far converged in Miami for the annual Serra USA Rally January 18-20 to enjoy inspiring talks, fun fellowship and a chance to refocus and get inspired. In the midst of board meetings and committee presentations was a time for Adoration and Mass, including homilies from Most Reverend Thomas Cardinal Collins of Toronto, and Most Reverend Thomas Daly of Spokane.

In his welcome remarks Friday morning, outgoing US Serra President Mike Downey reminded Serrans of the multicultural Catholic church, and identified the goal of the gathering.

“To inform, to inspire, to ignite,” he said, “that’s the purpose of this rally.” In addition to taking an enthusiasm back to each club, Mike added that the rally also exists to form Christ-centered friendships, and Past President Greg Schwitz agreed, saying “that’s the secret sauce!”

In his keynote address Friday, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami said our call is to present Jesus as he really is, especially to a generation impacted by instant gratification and fleeting interests. “Many young Americans fear making any long-term commitments,” he said, adding that vocations must be cultivated if numbers are to grow. “An intimacy with the Lord in a really personal relationship – if you have this you will have a desire to be with him, to spend time with him.”

Friday afternoon featured an exhortation by Cardinal Collins to stay hopeful and full of prayer. “Where can I find the hope I need? We’re reduced to prayer!” Cardinal Collins added that we need hope, not optimism, to follow God’s will in building the church. “Hope is based on the vision of faith to see the hand of God in the midst of the storm,” he said. “God gives the increase.”

The Saturday morning address featured Sr. Irene Regina from the Daughters of St. Paul and Sr. Margaret Ann from the Carmeline Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart. The two sisters played Division 1 basketball together years ago before each discerning a call to religious life. They have stayed in touch as good friends and recently reconnected geographically in Miami.
“Apathy is the worst disease of the youth,” said Sr. Margaret Ann, who described herself as a ‘Billboard for Jesus’ because of her habit. “Young people want and need to realize God is real.”

The sisters shared of the hunger in the world for Jesus, with so many souls to be fed. They encouraged us to remember Matthew 9:38, “Pray the God of the harvest to send workers into his harvest field.” Sr. Irene Regina said our baptism gives us an ability to recognize Jesus in others. “Because of our baptismal anointing, we have the eyes to see the little spark!” The sisters encouraged Serrans to write letters, send a text, and offer words of encouragement, to be “friendly and befriending.”

“Loneliness is incredibly rampant in our society,” said Sr. Margaret Ann. “Our young people need you – please be active in your parishes. They need you, they need your love, they need you to be the connection to the heart of Christ.” It was especially touching to hear that many years ago, Sr. Margaret Ann was directly impacted by a Serran donation, which helped her enter the convent.

Cultural Outreach VP Jesse Gallagos talked about ways to promote Serra into various Catholic cultural communities. “We need to get to them to get them to pray for vocations,” said Jesse. He encouraged Serrans to focus on three things: prayer, diversity and how to get to people. “The world doesn’t have a vocations problem, it has a commitment problem.”

There was also consistent encouragement throughout the rally to ask the Master to send more laborers. As one panelist said, “Jesus looks with compassion and love. The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few. Ask the Master of the harvest to send us more laborers!”

Fr. Matthew Gomez, Vocations Director of the Archdiocese of Miami, gratefully encouraged Serrans to continue to support vocations. “It is the duty of the entire Christian people to foster vocations,” he said. “The Holy Spirit is an opportunist—it all begins because someone had the boldness to ask ‘have you ever thought about a vocation.’”

Serra, now more than ever.