ST SERRA VOCATIONS MINISTRY
Message from our Leadership

Dear Fellow Serrans and Followers,
 
August is the month of Mary. The Church dedicates this month to the
Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Immaculate Heart is often recognized together with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which we celebrate in the month of June. Just as the Sacred Heart represents Christ's love for
mankind, the Immaculate Heart represents the desire of the Blessed Virgin to bring all people to her Son.

The devotion to Mary received new importance as a consequence of the visions given to Sister Lucia, the oldest of the visionaries of Fatima almost 100 years ago. In those visions Our Lady asked for the practice of the Five First Saturdays to help make amends for the offenses committed against Her heart by the blasphemies and ungratefulness of men. This practice parallels the devotion of the Nine First Fridays in honor of the Sacred Heart.

There is no better example of a Christian life than that offered by Mary. Through Novenas and prayers of intercession and consecration, which help to deepen our devotion to Her Immaculate Heart, we can join
the Mother of God in drawing closer to Christ - her wish for us all.

As we pray for a closer relationship to Jesus, let us also pray to God for the blessings he bestows on us in the form of dedicated priests, deacons and religious, as well as His ongoing call to both men and women to dedicate their lives to The Church. Without these devoted individuals who answer the Lord’s call to guide us in our faith journeys, our Church would not be what it is in this time of greatest need.

God bless you!
 
Thom Field, President
St. Serra Vocations Ministry
From The Editor

Welcome to the St. Serra Vocations Ministry Newsletter.

This months edition is a typical summer newsletter. A little brief but still enlightening. We appreciate all our followers and ask that you share this newsletter.

Our feature article this month is A Celebration Of Seminarians written by the FFCC !

And if you think being a Priest or Sister is boring, Come check out this edition.The Knights, The Hillbilly Thomists and some rock'in Dominican Sisters at the Grand Ole Opry.

I would also like to give a big shout out to the great Serra authors. Great articles this month ! And to the great writers at the FFCC !

Please contact us if you have any questions or are interested in joining Serra, or starting a Parish Vocation Ministry. You can also contact us at Serrabridge@gmail.com

Pax,

Mike Roberts
A Celebration Of Seminarians
 July 1, 2022

STAMFORD—Seminarians in the diocese of Bridgeport recently gathered at Holy Spirit Church in Stamford for an all-day retreat, followed by Solemn Vespers and dinner with members of the Blessed Michael McGivney Society. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano celebrated Mass for the men, followed by Solemn Vespers.

During Solemn Vespers, Sebastian Sanmiguel Lopez was instituted as a reader and David Klein and Matheus De Araujo Seixas were instituted as acolytes. Each of the candidates were called forward by the bishop. The bishop then spoke briefly to the candidates about the particular ministry and how they are to carry it out in their lives.
Members of the Blessed Michael McGivney Society gathered to share dinner with the men they are supporting.

The McGivney Society was established to provide support to men who are discerning vocations. Society members will help by providing financial support and accompaniment to programs that foster and sustain seminarians in discerning and forming vocations.

The society will make it possible to expand opportunities and support for men who are discerning a priestly vocation, especially in college and post-college. Plans call for developing virtual and in-person discernment support groups, days of recollection/discernment retreats with a particular focus on college students and those in the workforce and sponsoring pilgrimages and young adult conferences on vocations.

“The goal is to cultivate a missionary attitude towards fostering vocations,” said Bishop Caggiano. “Society members are answering the call to renewal in a unique way by fostering discerning, forming and accompanying priestly vocations.”

Music for Solemn Vespers was provided by Dr. William Atwood, diocesan director of music and Allison Savage, cantor.
(For information on joining the Blessed Michael McGivney Society, email Joe Gallagher at: jgallagher@diobpt.org.)        
Why CFR Friars Wear Beards | LITTLE BY LITTLE | Fr Columba Jordan CFR
Igniting the faithful starts with a spark.

Welcome to the Serra Promotion And Resource Kit (SPARK!) Brought to you by the U.S. Council of Serra International.SPARK is a free online collection of best-practices tools in religious vocation ministries-as curated from parishes, dioceses, and religious orders around North America. Click here to learn more about Serra Spark.
Rosary for Vocations: The Joyful Mysteries
Please pray a Rosary at least once a month for Vocations.
Did you know we have a Facebook and a Twitter page ?

The Facebook page features:

  • Daily prayer requests for a Priest, Deacon, Religious order and a seminarian.
  • Priest Anniversary Cards
  • Prayer for the Anniversary of Priests Deaths
  • Deacon anniversary cards
  • Permanent diaconate candidate prayer cards
  • Monthly prayer card for the rector of Redemptoris Mater and a monthly prayer card for the diocesan director of seminarians
  • Weekly prayer card for our vocation directors and a weekly prayer card for our permanent diaconate coordinators
  • Prayer cards for seminarian birthdays
  • Prayer cards for the Anniversary of Deacons Deaths
  • Serra News
  • Pause and Pray
  • The Daily CORE Morning and Afternoon Retreats


Nashville Dominican Sisters support Hillbilly Thomists on country music’s most famous stage

Nashville, Tenn., Aug 4, 2022 / 12:00 pm
The famous Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee, has hosted stars such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, and many more.
But it wasn’t until Aug. 1 that a band of wisecracking, bluegrass-playing, Spirit-filled Dominican friars had played the legendary venue.
The Hillbilly Thomists claimed that historic distinction with a rousing, humorous performance as the opening act of a concert hosted by the Knights of Columbus, whose annual convention was held Aug. 1-4 at the nearby Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.
The friars’ show was made all the more special by the presence of dozens of their religious sisters, from the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia in Nashville, who clapped, sang, and laughed along with the band.

“It was a little bit unfair having a home crowd,” joked Father Joseph Martin Hagan, the band’s drummer. 
One of the sisters present, Sister Anne Catherine Burleigh, told CNA after the performance that the friars rose to the challenge of playing on such a prestigious stage.
“We know a lot of our brothers and they’re wonderful priests, and it’s fun to see them bring out their study of theology in this very fun way,” she said.

The band’s name explained
Proceeds from the band’s album sales, donations, and merchandise sales support the formation of friars at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., where the Hillbilly Thomists first came together.


“We’re Catholic priests who play Americana music. We started doing it in-house as a way that the family tries to relax. Really it’s a form of recreation, storytelling … it’s fun,” band member Father Timothy Danaher told CNA in an interview backstage before the show.
Members of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia enjoying a performance of The Hillbilly Thomists at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on Aug. 1, 2022. Joe Bukuras/CNA
The band drew inspiration for its name from a letter written by Catholic novelist Flannery O’Connor. “Everyone who’s read Wise Blood thinks I’m a hillbilly nihilist, whereas ... I’m a hillbilly Thomist,” she wrote, referring to her love of St. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican.

“So, we, too, are lovers of St. Thomas Aquinas," Father Peter Gautsch, one of the band’s founding members, recently told the National Catholic Register, "and given her sort of Southern sensibilities, [and] the Southern character of some of our music, being from the bluegrass country tradition … it seemed a perfect name for our group."

The band’s third album, “Holy Ghost Power,” came out in July. The title track captures the humor and evangelistic themes the friars’ fans love so much. A sample verse:
You got to tear down the wall and read Saint Paul
Burn like fire after the fall
Holy Ghost Power (by the Hillbilly Thomists)
A Minute with Mike

I recently read a paper on C.S. Lewis by Jana Harmon, Adjunct Professor of Cultural Apologetics at Biola University and a Teaching Fellow for C.S. Lewis Institute, Atlanta. Professor Harmon’s theme is taken from Lewis’ book “The Problem of Pain.” Pain, suffering, can oftentimes bring about doubt to a caring and loving God and why? Because as sinful broken people, we, as Professor Harmon says, “no longer see ourselves as sinners… we tend to transfer [our own sense of personal guilt] toward corporate responsibility… [It’s our] vain attempt to prevent personal culpability.” If we would only open ourselves to truth, one line in Harmon’s paper may just be a prophetic word to overcoming such doubt. That line reads, “We tend to see God’s love as more like a kind, doting grandfather who likes to see his grandchildren contented than as a father who genuinely loves and desires to see the best character developed in the child through discipline.”

Would anyone in his right mind ever look to pain as a good? C.S. Lewis writes, “Whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want.” But is not this what a loving father does for his children? Give them what they need, not always what they want. Father Mike Schmitz speaks to this in his video series “The Bible in a Year.” Father Mike in reading the prophet Isaiah tells us how the people in Syria will recall God and experience God’s justice and remember God’s justice by His condemnation, “condemnation that is coming upon the people, not just the people of Israel, but the people of the world.” Isaiah says, “In that day men will regard their Maker, and their eyes will look to the Holy One of Israel; they will not have regard for the altars, the work of their hands, and they will not look to what their own fingers have made, either the Asherim or the altars of incense. In that day their strong cities will be like the deserted places of the Hivites and the Amorites, which they deserted because of the children of Israel, and there will be desolation” (Is 17:7-9). Father Mike goes on to say, “This is meant to get their attention; it’s meant to wake them up.” He expounds on this telling us, God’s justice “is always oriented towards conversion; it's oriented towards goodness, oriented to fulfillment.” Father makes the point that pain can be seen as the unmasking of evil and exposing sin for what it really is. Father quotes C.S. Lewis, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” God’s voice, as a loving and caring Father, must be loud enough so we actually listen.

We are broken people and we must allow ourselves to accept God’s genuine love, see the good in suffering, and desire to be formed through discipline. To help us reflect on this, let us make the following prayer by Father Mike Schmitz our own:

God, I don’t want you to make you bring me pain in order for me to listen. But even in the midst of pain, help me to listen to you, God. No Lord… If I could just hear your voice without pain, awesome. Fantastic. Let me turn to you. Let me repent of whatever I need to repent of. Let me belong to you fully. But if pain comes along, if suffering comes along, if justice, or even just evil that you allow to happen comes along, help me to hear your voice in the midst of that pain. When a storm comes along, Lord, help me to see your face in the midst of that storm. If tempests kick up and are threatening to drown me, Lord, help me to have your heart in the midst of that pain.

May God bless you.
FEATURED VIDEOS

Serra Meets - Archbishop Emeritus Elden F. Curtiss
DEACON DAVES CORNER

Vocation – Giving Lovingly of Oneself
Do you know that one-quarter of the Catechism is devoted to prayer? That fact shows the importance of prayer in forming our faith, which is further proven by the gospel reading from the Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary time (Luke 11:1-13) when one of Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. From that request, He gave us the Lord’s Prayer. Prayer is the one act that demonstrates how we stand to God. If we put God first, and not ourselves, we will love others, making their lives ours. In other words, putting others first, instead of ourselves. If we put ourselves first, we will repeat the history of humanity, which fashions our relations to others in terms of power and struggle, intent on protecting ourselves, not in giving ourselves.1  
Prayer, not just study, is the fundamental ingredient to forming a priestly vocation and sustaining it. As a people who advocate for and support vocations, our prayer is the primary action we can take to helping those who are discerning a vocation and sustaining those who have made their decision. Let us intensely pray for priests, religious and deacons that their vocation is sustained with prayer, ours and theirs, so that they willingly and lovingly give of themselves to make our lives theirs without regard to the cost.

1 Paraphrased from a column “Sojourns with Schall” by James V. Schall, SJ July 11, 2012
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Please feel free to share this with anyone you think might be considering a vocation in the church. The biggest thing you can do to influence vocations is just ask someone one simple question. Do you think that you might be a great priest, deacon, sister, nun or brother!

Please contact us if you would like to become a member. We specifically ask our clergy to recommend parishioners that may be able to help build a Vocations Team in your Parish.

Pax Christi,

The St. Serra Vocations of Bridgeport Team
St. Serra Vocations Ministry of Bridgeport