Serra International President Mario Biscardi's
# 1 PRIORITY FOR SERRA INTERNATIONAL IN 2018/2019:
Membership is e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y-’s business!!
Dear fellow Serra Leaders, I would like to share with you my #1 focus as, God willing, President of Serra International commencing July 1st, and that is “MEMBERSHIP IS E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y-‘S BUSINESS.”
This saying is not new. We have heard it many times in the past and it emphasizes the importance of everyone being actively involved in promoting membership in Serra – and not just the VP of Membership.
I have chosen this focus because SI has an amazing 83-year history of worthy vocation programs and activities including prayer services, and is quite relevant to our Church across the globe, however, for these and other worthy vocation programs, activities and prayers to continue, we need to continuously work at increasing membership.
Why? Because a Club may have the best vocation activities and the best programs, but if the Club is not successful in membership, it will die one day. We cannot allow that to happen!
To be successful in significantly increasing membership in 2018 and 2019, we will need to have every Serran at all levels to make a concerted effort and remain focused on membership in the coming year.
Accordingly, for my term as President of SI, and as the opportunity arises, I will be asking:
a) Every Serran to bring in one new member in 2018, and again in 2019
i) If every Serran is successful in this, SI will quadruple its size in 2019
b) Every District to bring in one new Serra Club in 2018, and again in 2019
c) Every Council to have their District Governors (“DG”) focused on membership, requiring them to provide quarterly reports to the Council President on the DG’s efforts being made to (a) open a new Serra Club in their District and (b) to have every Serran recruit 1 new member in 2018 and again in 2019.
d) Every DG to work closely with each Club President in increasing membership, and for each Club President to provide the DG with quarterly reports on membership commencing September 30, 2018, which reports will form the basis for the DG’s quarterly consolidated District Membership Report to the Council. The consolidated District reports from all DGs will form the Council’s quarterly Membership report to SI.
e) Our Executive Director and our Chicago office staff to establish a Serra Club in Chicago.
f) The Board of Trustees of Serra International to maintain the focus on Membership in their own area, and to be fully engaged with and support their local Serra Clubs and Councils in the Membership drive for the coming year.
g) Our new Episcopal Advisor to help us establish Serra in Germany and France. Actually, I have already asked him and he quickly responded by saying that he knows the Archbishop in Munich, and yes, Serra would be good there. And he knows the Cardinal in Paris, and yes, he could use a Serra Club there too!
h) The Past Presidents to work with their District Governors as Deputy District Governors in helping them to maintain the focus on Membership in their own areas and especially in: (a) establishing new Serra Clubs in new areas where no Serra presently exists; and (b) strengthening weak Serra Clubs. This of course would be in addition to the ask to every Serran to bring in 1 new Serran in 2018, and again in 2019.
i) Simply put, let us ALL make a concerted effort for one year at increasing membership. Why? Because if Clubs are successful, then Serra will be successful. Serra’s success therefore depends entirely on each Club’s success in increasing membership.
How can each Serran find one new member? Here are some helpful suggestions:
a) Firstly, consider your spouse, siblings, children, relatives and friends, and invite them to join Serra. Serra has helped each of us to grow in our Catholic Faith, and it therefore follows that we would want to have our loved ones and good friends in Serra as well.
b) If no relatives or friends can be found who are interested in Serra, then the next best place is your Pastor. Invite him to a Serra meeting as a Guest Speaker and ask him for referrals. Ask him also for permission to invite daily communicants to a Serra information meeting after morning Mass, or start a new Club 31.
c) If the Pastor does not have any referrals for you, look at the volunteers in your parish, namely, ushers, lectors, ministers, etc., people who have a deep appreciation for the priesthood.
d) If no parishioner can be found, then ask your priest friends or seminarians for referrals, especially family and extended family members of priests and seminarians for they are good prospects for Serra.
e) Serra Italy Council has had tremendous results in increasing membership by inviting prospective Serrans to their Serra vocation activities, and so please consider inviting any of the above individuals to our Serra vocation activities, as well as to our monthly meetings.
f) Serra Clubs in the USA have had excellent results by devoting at least 1 Serra meeting each year to promote Serra membership by inviting prospective members attend to hear a presentation on Serra along with the testimony of Serrans, the Club Chaplain and/or Vocation Director and/or Bishop.
Why should we increase members in Serra? I can immediately think of 4 compelling reasons:
1) To strengthen Serra and thus ensure that Serra’s noble apostolate in fostering and promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life will continue.
2) Serra has strengthened our own Catholic Faith, and so it follows that we should be very eager to want our loved ones and good friends to experience the same peace that Serra has brought to us.
3) We need more priests to ensure that our grandkids and great grandkids will have the sacraments available to them. In the Archdiocese of Toronto, it is estimated that 180 priests will retire by 2028 – will we have 180 ordinations by 2028? Our average has been only 4 per year since 2008. Where will the other 140 come from?
4) We need more prayers to the Lord of the Harvest to bring laborers to the Harvest!
Lastly, recruiting new members is a challenge. If you need inspiration, look no further than our own patron, St. Junipero Serra, whose travails show us what prayer, faith and sacrifice can achieve. But before you try to recruit another new member, do this:
- There are plenty of potential members waiting to be asked but how do you do it? What will you say to them about Serra? Are you really clear on what our Serra mission is, what our Serra Club does, and what is attractive about belonging to Serra International, the only lay organization that is aggregated to the Holy See? Here is an exercise for you to complete before you try to recruit a new member. Ask yourself the following questions, and write the answers down:
- Why am I Serran? What convinced me to join?
- In your own words, what is Serra's mission?
- Why do I personally believe in this mission?
- How many years have I been a Serran? What keeps me in Serra and working for vocations?
- Name three blessings that you have received as a part of your membership to Serra.
- Name three activities conducted by our club that fulfill Serra's mission.
- How would you feel if Churches in your local community including your Parish, need to be shut down because there is a shortage of priests?
- How important is it to you to pass on your Catholic Faith to your grandkids, and that the sacraments be readily available to them?
- Name three reasons why the Church needs Serra.
- How would you feel if you went to Sunday Mass only to be told that there is no priest?
Finally, think about the person that you want to invite to join our Serra Club. What about this special person made you think that he or she would find membership in Serra fulfilling? What qualities does this person possess that could make him or her a valuable member of our Serra Club?
I look forward to working with you on this membership campaign in the coming year! Please use the attached flyer and membership application in your efforts to attract one new member for your Club, and for Serra.
Together, we can do it! All it takes is for every Serran to recruit 1 new member in 2018!
Mary, Mother of Vocations, pray for us!
St. Junipero Serra, pray for us!
President, Serra International 2018/2019