Group exploring ways to re-establish Serra Club in Knoxville

Father Joe Reed celebrates Sacred Heart Cathedral Mass to mark diocesan-wide appeal for vocations

By Emily Booker

Are you answering God’s call in your life? Are you helping others answer their call? A group in Knoxville is working to create a culture that grows and nourishes vocations in the Diocese of Knoxville.

Father Joe Reed, director of the diocesan Office of Vocations, celebrated a Mass for vocations to the priesthood, religious life, and the diaconate on Sept. 7 at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Concelebrating were Father Arthur Torres, Father Michael Woods, and Father Pontian Kiyimba. Deacon Joel Livingston served as Deacon of the Word.

In his homily, Father Reed said God meets us where we are and uses our pasts and our talents. We just have to respond to His call.

“I’m working with some guys who are in college, and they’re thinking, ‘What do I want to do with my life?’ And they’re worried about majors, and that’s understandable.

But they fail to realize no matter what we have in our past, somehow the Lord brings that into the vocation into whatever state in life we end up in,” he said.

“What does the Lord say to each of us? What does Christ, who has wounds in his hands and his feet and his brow and his side, say to us? Be not afraid,” he added.

While we are called to answer to our own vocations, Father Reed believes we also should be helping others in theirs.

“That ‘be not afraid’ is also spoken in a special way to parents,” Father Reed said. “That’s a message that we all have to help get out to the world. Be not afraid that maybe, just maybe, your son is called to be a priest. Or maybe your son or daughter is called to be a religious.”

He urged people to continue to pray for all vocations: priesthood, religious life, diaconate, marriages, and consecrated women.

Following the Mass for vocations was a presentation on re-establishing a Serra Club in Knoxville. Serra Club is an international organization founded by lay men and women in 1935 to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

The club is named after St. Junipero Serra, the 18th century saint who founded several missions in California. Serra Club members work to be missionaries in their communities, growing vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

“I think a big part of the Serra Club mission is to be the leaven for the Church, for the kingdom of God, but also to those people who spread the Church in their lives,” Father Reed said.

The Diocese of Knoxville already is blessed with an active Serra Club in Chattanooga. A number of people would like to see the club revived in the Knoxville area. Knoxville has had an active Serra Club in the past, but it disbanded in recent years.

“We all need to be praying for priests,” said Luke McLaurin, a parishioner at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

“If the laity help, we can create a culture of vocation where everybody realizes we all have a vocation, a common vocation — we all have the universal call to holiness; it starts at baptism.”

He along with Steve Garvin and Dave Wells are working to establish the Serra Club in Knoxville. They hope to see the Serra Club foster a culture of vocations at the parish level. Through prayer and fellowship and by hosting events and inviting speakers to discuss different vocations, the Serra Club can help communities support religious vocations.

“This is a group that we want to be open to anybody who wants to join, because we really want to encourage as many members of our community to be supportive of vocations,” Mr. McLaurin said.

“Our idea is that we’ll be out there and be ambassadors within our own parishes, within our families, among our groups of friends, to help promote this culture of vocations.”

If you or someone you know would like to be involved in the Knoxville Serra Club, please contact Dave Wells, director of adult faith formation for Sacred Heart Cathedral, at 865-584-4528.

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