St. Serra Club: Building vocation awareness

Barb Arland-Fye
Bill Barrett and Deb McAfoos of the St. Serra Club of Davenport pose for a picture at St. Vincent Center in Davenport earlier this month.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
St. Serra Club of Davenport members come from a variety of backgrounds but share a common bond in supporting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life. Like so many dedicated volunteers, they hope more Catholics will join them in this labor of love for the future of the church.
Volunteers support clergy and seminarians through prayer, funds and by building vocation awareness in parishes, schools and the community at large, say Bill Barrett and Deb McAfoos of the St. Serra Club.
They invite you to join the St. Serra Club at Mass the first Friday of each month at 11:30 a.m. at the St. Vincent Center in Davenport (diocesan headquarters). Beforehand, at 11:10 a.m., club members pray the rosary. Potential volunteers are also welcome to attend monthly club meetings the third Wednesday of each month at the St. Vincent Center from 7-8 p.m.
Barrett, who serves as the club’s president, carries childhood memories of his family’s interest in promoting vocations through his dad’s involvement in the Knights of Columbus. The family spent a lot of time around priests. The St. Serra Club, founded 55 years ago, is a unique way to get to know priests and sisters and seminarians, Barrett said.
McAfoos joined the Serra Club with her husband, Bill, who knows Barrett. A McAfoos daughter, Meredith Dreasler, also joined St. Serra Club. Deb McAfoos said her participation in a retreat inspired her commitment to promote vocations. “We need to support our priests; without them, we wouldn’t be able to receive Jesus (in the Eucharist).”
People tend to confuse the Serra Club with the Sierra Club, a grassroots environmental organization. Barrett says he tells people, “There’s no “i” in Serra, but we do plant seeds.” Adding “saint” to the club’s title may help eliminate the confusion, he hopes.
Diocesan Vocations Director Father Joseph Sia serves as chaplain to the St. Serra Club. He ministers to club members spiritually by celebrating First Friday Mass with them, leading them in prayer during meetings and other activities and projects.
“Prayer is the most important thing that they do for vocations promotion. Additionally, I support them in their various efforts such as promoting the summer picnic and the fall gala, giving advice for projects such as the prayer backpack/folder initiative, and helping edit the St. Serra Club Prayer Book,” Father Sia said. Colleen Darland, administrative assistant in the Vocations Office, provides plenty of “behind the scenes” support.
What impresses Father Sia most about the St. Serra Club is “their witness of dedication to their ministry! I am impressed and humbled to realize that there are faithful lay Catholics who are concerned about vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and are doing their part in helping raise awareness of the need to pray for and support priests, seminarians and religious brothers and sisters.”
The Vocations Thanksgiving Gala on Nov. 15 at the Outing Club in Davenport offers an opportunity to demonstrate support for and to mingle with men and women who said “Yes” to religious life. “The gala honors those who have given their lives to the church,” Barrett said. It is also a way to raise funds for projects that support vocation awareness and seminarians’ education, McAfoos said.
Jon Leonetti, a Catholic speaker and author, will give the keynote talk. At one point in his life, he felt called to discern a vocation to the priesthood but later discerned a vocation to marriage, McAfoos said. She finds his story inspiring and thinks gala guests will, too.
To RSVP for the gala, contact Colleen Darland at vocations@davenportdiocese.
org or call (563) 888-4378. Tickets are $50

Tools for vocation awareness

• Pocket-sized Book of Prayers for anyone, from the beginner to the seasoned prayer warrior.
• ASK card — a business-sized card inviting others to consider a vocation. The back of the card reads, “You have special qualities. Have you ever considered a religious vocation?” Contact information follows.
• Seminarian prayer card — the 5-by-8-inch card shows each seminarian’s face, name and year in seminary studies. “One of our goals is get their faces known in the community so people can pray for them,” McAfoos said.
• Prayer Packs for use with religious education classes and school groups.
• Serra Spark, a national initiative. This free, online collection offers best practices tools in religious vocations ministry — as curated by parishes, dioceses and religious orders around North America.
To obtain these resources or to learn more about how to help with St. Serra Club’s mission, send an email to Also, visit the St. Serra Club of Davenport website at

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