Story by Reagan Scott
(SNR) - Since its founding in the Lincoln Diocese in 1955, the Serra Club has been serving those in the priesthood and religious life by encouraging vocations through prayer and service.
The motto of the men’s organization is “to foster and promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life and to further Catholicism by encouraging its members, in fellowship, through education, to fulfill their vocations to service,” according to the group’s webpage.
The group was originally founded in Seattle in 1935 and has spread across the globe. The organization now has more than 20,000 members worldwide.
Named after St. Junípero Serra who was canonized last year, the group does what it can to emulate the saint who was so vital in spreading the faith and establishing missions throughout what is now California. Now, Lincoln’s Serra Club is doing what it can to emulate St. Serra’s mission.
Walter Zink II, a four-year member of the Serra Club, serves as the president of the Lincoln organization, which currently has 100 members.
“We [try to emulate St. Serra] by trying to be selfless, to evangelize and to encourage people in their efforts to be religious,” he said. “He was a great creator of missions and we try to follow that example. We are truly proud that he was canonized.”
The group meets on the first and third Fridays of the month at Madonna Rehabilitation Center. On the first Friday, the group will have Mass and a rosary in the center’s chapel preceding the meeting. On the third Friday of the month, the group will have lunch and a speaker.
The speakers at the meetings vary, but Ron Lee, program chair, ensures that the organization has a wide variety of people come, including priests, sisters, seminarians and lay people.
Father Robert Matya serves as the Serra Club’s chaplain, celebrating Mass for the organization, as well as beginning the meetings on the third Friday of the month when he can. Father Matya also serves as the vocations director for the diocese.
“The position of director of vocations nestles nicely with our mission,” Zink said.
Because the Serra Club’s mission is to promote vocations in the diocese, the organization is very involved with St. Gregory the Great Seminary, as well as the religious sisters in the Lincoln Diocese.
“The impact goes both ways,” Zink said. “We believe our efforts from prayer provide a sense of support in our diocese and there’s a sense of satisfaction we get from seeing young men and women enter religious life and the priesthood.”
According to Zink, the organization’s work allows them to be more involved in the vocation process, especially for the seminary, because the vocation process for the priesthood is more public than that of the convent.
In fact, it was the organization’s involvement with the seminary that inspired Richard Veik, a resident of Firth and a member of St. James Parish in Cortland, to join the Serra Club three years ago.
“I wanted to have more involvement with the seminary and the seminarians coming up to serve in our diocese,” Richard Veik said. “We help out with the graduation of the seminarians in the spring as well as the Ordination Mass at Cathedral. That’s a lot of fun.”
Another way that Richard Veik and his wife Lonnie encourage vocations is through adopting seminarians in prayer.
Richard Veik said, “There are quite a few of us [in Serra Club] who ‘adopt’ seminarians. I think that’s one of the more fun things to do; to try to get to know these guys.”
Although spiritual adoption of seminarians isn’t mandatory for Serra Club members, it is Richard Veik’s belief that many of the members use this act of service in order to further promote the mission of the Serra Club.
One of Richard Veik’s favorite events that the Serra Club hosts is a dinner with the seminarians and their parents.
“It’s really fun to get to know the parents of these guys,” Richard Veik said. “They’re all wonderful.”
As the wife of a Serra Club member, Lonnie Veik can still find ways to support vocations in the diocese, whether by adopting seminarians to pray for or helping to serve at receptions that the Serra Club hosts.
Lonnie Veik also enjoys going to Mass before the organization’s first Friday meeting each month, but what she enjoys most is being able to support the seminarians.
“Watching these young men grow, it’s been a phenomenal experience for me,” Lonnie Veik said. “We are blessed with so many vocations in our diocese.”
The Serra Club doesn’t only support seminarians however. Among other things, Serra Club will host an annual golf outing for all of the priests, as well as a luncheon for retired diocesan priests.
Although the vocation process for religious sisters is different than that of the priesthood in the diocese, that doesn’t stop the Serra Club from supporting them in any way. In fact, every year the Serra Club will hold an appreciation dinner for the sisters in the Lincoln vicinity with members delivering food to the cloistered Pink Sisters in Lincoln, as well as the Carmelite Sisters in Valparaiso.
The members of the organization also host a youth day with the School Sisters of Christ the King for fathers and their daughters, as well as offer special prayers for consecrated religious.
“Long-term, we’d like to provide even more assistance to our religious sisters,” Zink said. “We very much appreciate all of the support we get from the sisters and the things that they do throughout the Diocese.”
Through their prayers and events, the Serra Club of Lincoln has been quietly supporting vocations in the Diocese of Lincoln for decades and, God willing, will continue to do so for many more decades to come.