Claire Kenney
Freelance Writer
August 15, 2023 // Diocese

Serra Club of South Bend Celebrates 75 Years

Claire Kenney
Freelance Writer

Chartered in 1948, this year marks the Serra Club of South Bend’s 75th anniversary. A chapter of the larger organization Serra International, their mission is to pray, promote, and foster vocations to the priesthood, consecrated life, and religious life.

The organization is named after St. Junipero Serra, founder of the missions of California. Members are referred to as Serrans.

“Serrans pray daily for the priests and religious in our diocese,” Serra Club of South Bend President Debby Blum said, “Each Serran is assigned specific priests, seminarians, and religious to pray for by name.”

Former president and current member, Susan Vales, originally joined the organization in Dallas. She and her husband Ray Vales, who is also a past Serra Club of South Bend president and a former secretary for Serra International, joined the South Bend chapter in 2009 after moving to the area. Both really believe in Serra’s mission. “It’s just so vital that we realize how important it is,” Susan said. “We need to pray for our priests.”

One of the club’s initiatives is issuing Altar Server Certificates to 8th grade and graduating high school students to help encourage religious vocations. The Club also raises funds for seminarian education. Funds are raised through the sale of Father’s Day cards at different South Bend area parishes on a rotating basis.

The success of these and other initiatives as well as the general vibrancy of the club stems from the hard work and dedication of the club’s Serrans.

“It is a tribute to the men and women who, over the years, have carried forth the mission which is to pray, foster, and support vocations to the priesthood, religious life, and the holiness of its members,” Ray said.

This year, seven men were ordained to the priesthood in the diocese, an answer to the club prayer. “Our prayers have born great fruit with seven priests ordained to the priesthood in our diocese this year,” Blum reflected.

Both Ray and Susan really enjoy the fellowship that comes with being active in Serra. “It is great to be in fellowship with over 7,500 Serrans in the United States,” Ray said. “I enjoy the fellowship with the other Serrans,” Susan added.

To officially celebrate this 75th anniversary milestone, several members gathered in June to share a meal. “Fifteen of the members of the Serra Club of South Bend gathered to celebrate our 75th anniversary of the club’s inception with a meal at Papa Vino’s and a brief talk by our chaplain,” said Debby.

As part of fellowship, the club meets twice a month. They meet on the third Wednesday of each month at St. Therese, Little Flower in South Bend to listen to a speaker, discuss, and pray. On the first Friday of each month, the group gathers for a Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration at the Divine Mercy Life Center. During the Holy Hour, they pray for the bishop and pray for priests, religious, and seminarians of the diocese.

With 75 years of work that has seen many fruits, the Serra Club of South Bend has much good work ahead of them as they continue to pray for vocations to religious and consecrated life.

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