International Convention Report

A report on Serra's 72nd international convention from Anne Shepherd-Knapp

Dear Serrans

I am just back tonight from the Serra International Convention in Sacramento California. It was wonderful with over 340 participants from 15 different countries.

Our out going President, Sean Yeo, of Singapore, gave a comprehensive recap of the year's events, click here for a video of his State of Serra Address. He accomplished much with the assistance of the Serra International Board and the new Executive Director of Serra International, John Liston. They proved to be a great team that moved us light years forward and reinvigorated our Serran mission and  the organization. A copy of Sean's recap of the year has been sent to each club President and I would encourage you to send it to all your members.


All legal difficulties of the past were resolved earlier this year. A decision was also passed this week by the Serra International board to disband the committee called Fresh Start who had been lobbying for some political changes. They are no longer a recognized entity. That being said it is also understood that we as Americans believe in free speech and therefor can not necessarily expect that there will not be further communication to Serrans from the Fresh Start promoters. They were present at the convention but very much in step with everyone present.


The rift between organizations is spiritually and legally mended. The convention was harmonious and spirit filled. Everyone felt so blessed to be there and witness first hand all the progress made this past year and the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst. We did not witness any of the politicizing of the past. It was a wonderfully peaceful time full of good will and accomplishments. The Blessed Sacrament was available in the hotel for adoration 24 hours a day during the length of our convention and the light of the Lord was obvious among us all.   Click here for video highlights from the convention.


The opening Mass of the convention, celebrated at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament by Bishop Jaime Soto.

Delegates learned both Serra's National Council for the United States and Serra International could be more fiscally responsible and that cost saving measures were enacted this past year to achieve that end. The good news is that Serra International has paid off or consolidated all their debts and is now only in debt to The Serra Foundation.   Click here to watch a video of the delegates meeting.


We have a new transparent reporting system and more accountability measures in place to insure greater fiscal responsibility and full transparency as never seen in the past. It was noted that the debt could be erased if clubs who have withheld their dues would simply pay-up or make arrangements to pay past due funds in incremental measurements over whatever period of time is necessary. Please join in the forgiving spirit of Christ by making the necessary arrangements. 


You had already heard of office consolidation with Serra International, Serra's National Council for the United States, and The Serra International Foundation.  They have reduced staff and expenditures. They are sharing office space and covering for each other to create a more harmonious, efficient, and cost effective work environment. The quality of the new staff and their work was obvious at the convention and a big improvement over the past two years.


You may have noticed the old Serra International website no longer functioning.  The new site is still being developed and partially available, as evidenced by this post.  The new site comes with a savings of over $140,000.00 per year compared to the cost of the old site.  Be patient as Serra saves money and continues to build up the new site.  They know there is still much to do to bring the new site up to par but with your patience it will improve and there will be tremendous savings.


The 2014 Delegates Meeting.

The Serra International Foundation reported to the delegates. Details of their funding activities is available in the Delegates Book that was made available in email to all Serrans prior to the convention. Several vocation related organizations benefited from the Foundation, which is predominately funded by your Serran donations. Please be generous next time they contact you because the list of grant recipients was great and you would be pleased.


Delegate Books have  previously only been available to delegates of the convention. Enjoy the new transparency of our organization and learn much from what has been made available to you.


I represented both the Spring and Bay Area clubs and was very satisfied with how the voting went this year.


All Presidents and Treasurers should note the approval of a new fiscal end of year date approved by the delegates at the convention. Dec. 31 is the new date for Serra International. That was done in an effort to get 3 organizations all on the same calendar schedule: the Serra Foundation, Serra International and Serra's National Council for the United States. It should make record keeping easier in the future.


I know you have heard about Kurt Metyko of the Houston Club being voted to the SI board as a Trustee. We were so excited about the vote and the fact that there were not any other last minute nominations to disrupt that accomplishment. Congratulations, Kurt! Click here to learn about the current Board of Trustees of Serra International.


The new President of the Serra's National Council for the United States, Bob Labat, appointed me the new Chairperson of the Vocation Committee for the Council under VP of Vocations, Judy Cozzens. I'm still learning about the position but will be responsible for the agenda and running of the Vocation Committee meeting in January of 2015 at the Serra Rally in Houston.I feel very honored.


Ken Harris, Bob Campney, Diana Seixas, Mary O'Connor, and Sally Nance being thanks for their service as District Governors.


Our former District Governor, Margo Geddies LaFuze, and I have also been asked to Co-chair the logistical planning portion for the Serra Rally, which is being moved from Chicago to Houston in 2015. It will be an expanded version of what was previously called SuperWeekend. It will be open to all Serrans in the USA.  The theme of the Serra Rally is Always Forward, Never Back in keeping with the philosophy of our patron, Junipero Serra. Please block off your calendars for this important event: January 15-18, 2015.  Everyone can participate in this wonderful event and meet Serrans from all over the USA. 


Following that decision, the new Serra International board headed by Serra International President Dan Grady, from the Serra Club of Grand Rapids, Michigan, held it's first meeting.  At that meeting it was decided that the Serra International Board will hold a meeting concurrently with Council during the Serra Rally in Houston instead of Orlando, Florida as is customary for the Serra International Board.


Next years International Convention will be held in Melbourne, Australia. Dates are set for July 30-August 2 with some excursions available. 


Friend and Franciscan Friar, Fr. Joe Scerbo, was present among us, again. He was so instrumental in the creation and filming of the film aired about Junipero Serra on EWTN last year,  As many of you heard in his interview with Fr. Mitch Pacwa  of EWTN last fall, he is suffering from cancer. He was noticeably weaker physically this week. His incredible spirit and wit was ever present even though he suffered with constant pain and nausea. His example and love of the Lord brought great benefits to those of us there. He passed his Serran stole to brother priest, Jim Heyd of Chicago. It was a tearful moment for all of us.  Please keep him in your prayers as his cancer is now in stage IV.  I would like to suggest you consider a novena on his behalf and to pray for the intervention of our patron, Junipero Serra. Perhaps we can influence a cure and final miracle for the cause of sainthood for our patron all at the same time.


Franciscan Friar, Fr. Joe Scerbo at the convention.

We were thankful to Bishop Jaime Soto for his presence and the hospitality of his diocese.


Blessings to all,


Anne Shepherd-Knapp
President, The Serra Club of Spring-1960 Area
Deputy Governor, District 10