For many years my Father was the president of a local chapter of Serra International and very often I was invited to attend events in Oak Park, and sometimes in the larger chapter in Chicago. I attended many of the father/daughter dinners and have such a wonderful memories of those events.

There were also father/son dinners, of course. Serra events naturally focused on vocations to the priesthood but also the religious life as a nun, for example. Speakers usually highlighted the importance and the beauty of a vocation but also – and in some ways, more importantly – underscored the contribution that a good, loving, spiritually rich family can make to the creation of and support for a vocation.

During those “Serra years,” I also accompanied my parents to a number of Serra International conventions in the U.S and Canada, and I still have terrific memories of some of those gatherings and the marvelous people working to promote vocations to the priesthood. Obviously I also met a great number of seminarians and priests, in addfition to a number of bishops and cardinals.

Mom, Dad and I usually made the city of the Serra convention our final goal on a long car vacation, driving, for example, from Illinois to Toronto or Vancouver or San Francisco. We never forgot the miles we traveled for the Vancouver convention (Dad always set the odometer for a trip) – 5,280. We probably remembered because that is how many feet there are in a mile. (I cannot explain the reason I remember trivia like this).

I was so hoping to be part of this convention in Rome but at the moment it doesn’t seem possible. Will keep you posted if things change!  In any event, below you’ll find some of the Pope’s words to 600 Serrans whom he received in audience today.


This weekend promises to be, in many places around the world, a very hot weekend, weather-wise. But you can stay cool in your home or car as you listen to this week’s “Vatican Insider” when my special guest in the interview segment is John Schlageter, director of the Bethlehem University Foundation.

In the midst of the violence and conflicts and religious persecution in the Middle East, including, of course, the Holy Land, there is one oasis of peace – Bethlehem University in Bethlehem, Palestine. John and I both know and love this university so tune in as we talk about his work.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library:   For VI archives:


Serra International,, a Catholic organization designed to help foster vocations to the priesthood, is currently celebrating its 75th annual convention in Rome, and 600 Serrans from around the world were received Friday by Pope Francis.

He urged members to “keep moving forward with courage, creativity and boldness,” and noted that a Serran, “is a special friend whom the Lord has brought into the lives of seminarians and priests.”

Speaking about friendship, the Holy Father said “friends stand at our side, they listen to us closely, and can see beyond mere words; they are merciful when faced with our faults; they are non-judgmental. “This is the kind of friendship that you seek to offer to priests.”  The Serra Club, he added,  “helps foster this beautiful vocation of being laity who are friends to priests.”

“Vocation,” Pope Francis explained, “is an invitation to go forth from ourselves, to rejoice in our relationship with the Lord, and to journey along the ways that he opens up before us. But we cannot make progress unless we take a risk, and have the courage to dare, not to let fear stifle creativity, not to be suspicious of new things, but instead to embrace the challenges which the Spirit sets before us, even when this means changing plans and charting a different course.”