By Megan Wagner, MH ’16
Fifty discerners gathered together at the University of Dallas for the Vocation Awareness Program (VAP) hosted by DFW Serra Clubs June 11-13. These 29 men and 21 women had the opportunity to meet with 36 priests and other religious life as they discerned God’s calling for their lives.
Serra International is a papal apostolate; the clubs around the world are made up of lay people who support current vocations and encourage future ones. DFW is blessed to have seven Serra Clubs. The clubs bolster vocations in many ways, including hosting a Vocational Awareness Week and urging others to pray for vocations. Individual members dedicate personal time to pray for the increase and perseverance of vocations and affirm those in religious life. Once a year, the seven DFW clubs come together to host the Vocation Awareness Program. This June marked the eighth VAP held on UD’s campus.
The success of the VAP can be seen in that many current Dallas and Fort Worth priests attended the VAP during their own discernment processes. The event includes time for prayer, seminars, presentations, panel discussions and one-on-one conversations. This year the weekend’s presentations included “How to Discern,” “How to Continue the Discernment Process After the Weekend,” and “What Is Formation and Ministry Like?”
“One highlight of the weekend is the abundance of time for adoration,” said Larry West, membership chairman for the Serra Club of Northeast Fort Worth and men's program coordinator for the VAP. Adoration is scheduled until 11 p.m. and sometimes continues well beyond that because they “generally have two to three discerners having amazing conversations with God.” A second highlight of the event is the time that attendees are allotted to meet one on one with religious life to ask questions. The participants have exposure to a wide variety of priests and religious life that they do not get anywhere else.
In order to attend the VAP, participants must apply, interview and be accepted. The weekend is no cost to them; food and lodging are covered by the funds raised by the local clubs. West added, “We raise the funds for the event each year by the grace of God.” Single, Catholic men and women ages 18-40 may attend; however, most participants are 20-30 years old. The passion of Serrans for vocations drives this investment in making sure young men and women have the opportunity to hear God’s calling.
West shared that the primary aim of the VAP is to “give them time to dedicate to conversation with the Lord and with others in vocation.” He quoted Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”
“Sometimes it is not that God isn’t calling,” he said. “It’s that we aren’t listening.”
The gift of time and space to be still and to pray and listen — particularly in adoration — is something that participants need as they discern. The Serrans will continue to pray for these 50 discerners, and they urge others to join them in praying for vocations.
Steve Huff, next year’s Serra Club chairman, summarized the weekend: “The VAP Weekend was a great success thanks to all of the great folks at UD and the priests, sisters and consecrated women who selflessly contributed their time to help all these young folks discern their calling. We simply cannot thank them all enough, and we look forward to another great event in 2022!”
Another Serra event, the Serra Rally, will be held in Irving in January 2022. You can learn more about the local Serra Clubs here.
Main and first three slideshow photographs by Jenna Teter courtesy of The Texas Catholic; other three courtesy of the Serra Club.