Serra is a global organization, but every Serran will tell you that they spend most of their energy at the grassroots level, as part of their local Serra Club. In collaboration with the local diocese, clubs organize and promote a huge array of events and programs–prayer for vocations, dinners for clergy, vocation curriculum in Catholic schools, events for altar servers–and literally thousands of other programs. We are passionate, creative, and energetic Catholics!
While we pray and work for vocations, we are also keenly aware of the value of friendship and mutual support. Our clubs are places of deep friendship, where men and women enjoy camaraderie while growing in faith. We’re mission-oriented, but also committed to personal growth in holiness.
Friendship & Mission
In short, Serra Clubs support life-long friendships and spiritual growth while making a huge difference in the Church by promoting vocations. In recent years, as so many regions are experiencing crises in vocations, we have adopted a new slogan: Serra now more than ever! Come join our efforts to ensure that the Catholic Church has a sufficient number of priests, brothers, and sisters for the future!
Our patron is the great Saint Junipero Serra, canonized by Pope Francis in 2015. Known as the “Father of California,” St. Serra serves as an example of single-minded zeal and extraordinary personal holiness.
Origins of Serra
Serra was formed in 1935 when a small group of lay people in Seattle decided to form an organization to promote and foster vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life. As a result, they chose Father Junipero Serra, the great missionary, as their patron and named the organization Serra Club of Seattle.
Today, there are more than 500 Serra Clubs around the world in 30 countries, comprised of thousands of lay Catholics. We are men and women of all ages and from all walks of life. We have a variety of professional backgrounds. Many of us are retired, though we have many younger members as well. All of us have one thing in common: we love our Catholic faith, and we are dedicated to promoting and fostering vocations.
Structure of Serra
The structure of Serra mirrors the structure of the Church. Serra International is our global “umbrella organization” and has its own Board of Directors. Many countries are organized into “Councils,” for example, the USA Council or the Thailand Council, which also have formal Boards. Some councils are divided into regions while other, smaller councils are divided into districts. Each Club has various roles such as president, treasurer, and so forth. We are diligent about rotating leadership and ensuring that members can assume new responsibilities.
One of our greatest strengths–which has sustained Serra for nine decades–is this highly organized structure. We work closely with Vocation Directors to help provide support in ways they need. This ensures the longevity of the organization, and most importantly, the continuity of our mission.
Formal Collaboration with the Vatican
Serra International is the only lay organization aggregated to a primary pontifical work. This extraordinary status was conferred in 1951. Our special relationship with the Holy Father was renewed again at the 2017 Serra International in Rome, during which more than 600 Serrans gathered with the Holy Father to focus on our work of promoting vocations throughout the global Church.
Our Threefold Mission
Since our founding,
the objectives of Serra have been clear:
To foster and promote vocations to the ministerial priesthood in the Catholic Church and support priests in their sacred ministry
To encourage and affirm vocations to consecrated religious life in the Catholic Church;
To assist members to recognize and respond in their own lives, to God’s call to holiness in Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.
Friendship with Clergy
“To be friends to priests, sustaining their vocation and accompanying them in their ministry: with this great gift you enrich the Church! This is, above all else, what a Serran is — a ‘special friend’ whom the Lord has brought into the lives of seminarians and priests. Friends who can offer priests support and regard their generous efforts and human failings with understanding and tender love. The Church and priestly vocations need you.”
Pope Francis: From his audience address to Serrans attending the 75th International Convention, Rome, June 23, 2017
Community & Mission
“I joined Serra as a young man for two reasons: 1) I liked the intergenerational community of active Catholic men and women, and 2) I liked Serra’s mission, serving the Church by fostering and affirming vocations. Serrans are prayerful, faithful, and action oriented. We are true friends to priests, religious and seminarians.”
Greg Schwietz, Past President of Serra International
Vital to the Church
“The Serra Club’s encouragement of a culture of vocations is enormously important for the work and the mission of the Church.”
Cardinal Thomas Collins, Episcopal Moderator of Serra International, Archbishop Emeritus of Toronto