By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — “We are their family and that is why we support vocations,” Bill Barrett, president of the Serra Club, said of priests and women religious.
He shared that observation with The Catholic Messenger at the annual Serra Club picnic Aug. 9 in the Knights of Columbus Hall. Priests, deacons, deacon candidates, seminarians, women religious and other supporters of Serra Club were invited to the picnic. Around 60 people attended.
Barrett said the event originally started as a picnic more than 25 years ago at St. Vincent Center and then moved to St. Ambrose University, both in Davenport. Eventually the picnic went indoors and to the Knights of Columbus Hall.
“It’s all about promotion and supporting all our religious,” he said. The evening began with a social hour, an appreciation for service to the church, dinner and introduction of the diocese’s new seminarians.
Barrett noted that among Serra Club’s initiatives, The Adopt a Seminarian program is in about 30 parishes. “We have about another 40 to go,” he said. A poster board with pictures and information about all of the seminarians is available to parishes as part of the program. Parishioners are encouraged to take a card for an individual seminarian and pray for him at home.
Seminarian Ben Snyder said it was refreshing to see a number of men and women religious at Serra Club’s event and he had met individuals serving in different roles for the church. He admired Father William Meyer, a retired diocesan priest who was in attendance. “He has been a priest for 66 years. I have one year of seminary down and seven to go,” Snyder said. He heads back to Conception Seminary in Missouri this month.
Sister Marie Vittetoe, CHM, arrived from Iowa City to attend the picnic. The 88-year-old who has been a sister for 69 years said she keeps busy doing “caring ministry.” She writes letters and cards, does phone ministry and works to be a “great communicator.”
Father William Kneemiller, chaplain at the Kahl Home in Davenport, encouraged the seminarians in attendance to take a Haitian-made rosary back to school.
Father Guillermo Trevino, who serves at St. Peter in Buffalo, St. Alphonsus and St. Mary parishes in Davenport, gave the blessing for the meal. He thanked the Serra Club for their efforts to promote vocations and to support those who choose to do church ministry.