Gala celebrates and promotes vocations

Barb Arland-Fye
Among the participants enjoying the Saint Serra Club Annual Vocations Gala at the Outing Club in Davenport on Nov. 19 were, from left, Sister Lois Baniewicz, OCarm; Sister Jacqueline Wagner, OCarm; Mary and Bill Rehmann; Sister Constance Richards, OCarm; Sister Maureen Sullivan, OCarm; and Father Mike Spiekermeier.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
Supporters and guests of the Saint Serra Club Annual Vocations Gala began their celebration on Nov. 19 with Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Father Thom Hennen, the cathedral’s pastor, and the diocese’s vicar general, presided. He shared how his experiences growing up helped shape his call to the priesthood.

Dinner at the Outing Club in Davenport followed. This year’s speaker, Keith Nester of Down to Earth Ministry, is a former Protestant pastor who became a Catholic in 2017 after years of discernment. He shared his story of conversion and reflected on Jesus’ ascension into heaven as the essence of Christian hope. “We have hope because Jesus gave us a shepherd to lead us in the Church,” Nester told his audience.

He encouraged the gathering to look to the Gospel for the life of hope, which calls Christians to “a life of obedience.” A life of obedience requires love of God and of neighbor. People without hope are petty and stingy. “When you have love of neighbor, you can give freely,” he said.

As he discerned his conversion, Nester spent time in eucharistic adoration in the chapel at Sacred Heart Cathedral. “In that chapel, I found comfort, peace and hope.”


Saint Serra Club’s annual gala offers an opportunity to demonstrate support for and to mingle with men and women who said “Yes” to religious life and to honor those who have given their lives to the church. The gala also serves as a way to raise funds to support the club’s work to promote and foster vocations to religious life — including the permanent diaconate, priesthood and women religious.

For more information about the Saint Serra Club, visit the website (

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