SEK parishes attempting to found a regional Serra Club

Fr. James Schibi calls on a student who took part in a Southeast Kansas 6th Grade Vocation Day Thursday, Feb. 23, at St. Francis Parish in St. Paul. Fr. Schibi is the pastor of Holy Name Parish in Coffeyville. (Photo courtesy Wayne Mikols)

Want to help the SEK Serra Club?

Those interested in establishing the SEK Serra Club may email [email protected] or call Angela Vowell at 620-870-9580.

When Mark Wiebe’s wife, Shirley, was unable to attend a seminarian send-off dinner after the Installation of the Acolyte and Reader Mass at the Cathedral in August of 2021, he asked Angela Vowell if she might want to take his wife’s seat.

During the dinner, Wiebe asked Vowell a somewhat rhetorical question of why a similar event wasn’t being held in Southeast Kansas. That question, along with the help of many lay and priests in Southeast Kansas, has resulted in an SEK Serra Club that is now in formation.

“There is interest in seminarians,” Vowell said, “but we just don’t know a whole lot about them because we didn’t get to see them very frequently.”

Seminarian speaks at first meeting

She added that the faithful in Southeast Kansas are now starting to see more of the seminarians, including Miles Swigart, a third-year theology seminarian from St. Patrick Parish in Kingman, who spoke at the SEK Serra Club’s first meeting.

As a result the dinner, and with the help of Barb Pinaire, Vowell met with Juanita Smith, the regional governor of Serra Club International. With the additional assistance of other interested individuals and couples, she began taking steps to found a Serra Club to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life in Southeast Kansas.

One of the priests she contacted was Fr. Zachary Pinaire, pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Independence and St. Francis Xavier in Cherryvale. “He was super excited and said I need you to talk to my mother – so he got me in touch with Barb Pinaire.”

Fr. Pinaire’s mother lends a hand

Fr. Pinaire’s mother also introduced Vowell to Kathy and Wayne Mikols, who were instrumental in establishing a committee for come-and-see meetings to promote interest in a regional Serra club.

The first was held a year ago at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Pittsburg. The group of about 12 meets monthly as would a fully recognized Serra Club, with speakers and prayer.

When the members of the SEK Serra club in-formation found out that the Serrans from Wichita were not holding a Vocations Day in Southeast Kansas this year they met, planned, and organized one on their own.

Bishop Kemme visits

“By the grace of God it came together,” Vowell said. “Bishop Kemme was able to come down and made it a priority to come down for the Mass,” she said.

With the help of the diocesan Vocations Office, several priests of the diocese and two Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters talked about their vocations, answered questions, and prayed and ate with the youth.

Vowell said 25 members are needed to establish a Serra Club, although they are seeking a reduction to 20 from Serra Club International because of the more rural nature of the area.