By Dave Wayman

Dave and his prayer partner, Father Wheeler.
Photo/Dave Wayman

       All Catholics are encouraged to pray for church vocations with the hope that there are more than enough men and women to minister to the current generation of Catholics, and to pass the faith on to future generations. Members of the Serra Club of Erie take this call one step further and embrace the opportunity to pray for vocations as an activity that is central to their membership. Even though I’ve committed to praying for others, it has deepened my own faith and brought wonderful new people into my life.

         As an 11-year member of the Serra Club of Erie, I was assigned Chris Wheeler as a prayer partner two years ago. Chris is now Reverend Christopher Wheeler,

having been ordained this past May at St. Patrick Church in Erie.

         Father Chris and I started corresponding when he became my prayer partner. We had a lot in common. Both of us grew up on a farm and both of us drive pickup trucks. I like and admire Father Chris as a man, and it has been the ‘icing on the cake’ of my membership in the Serra Club to watch him be ordained and attend his first Mass.

Dave Wayman and Father Wheeler fishing.
Photo/Dave Wayman

         Father Chris told me that having several Serrans praying for him daily directly influenced his discernment. He said that at times, it was a lonely process trying to discern God’s will for his life. Knowing that there were good people who cared and were praying for him helped.

         Father Chris is assigned to help at five parishes near Coudersport in the eastern part of the diocese. I will be assigned a new prayer partner this fall, but hope to continue corresponding with Father Chris from time to time.

         Serrans make the promise to go to one extra Mass each month and pray for an increase of vocations. In addition to that, each member has the responsibility of praying for one or more people daily. This could be a seminarian, or someone in the process of discerning a vocation to the consecrated life. These people are called “prayer partners.”

         The Serra Club also hosts several events during the year in which members meet with seminarians studying at St. Mark Seminary in Erie. Either through correspondence, or by attending these events, Serrans can develop a personal relationship with their prayer partner.

         Members pray continuously for the Holy Spirit to help their prayer partners discern whether the clerical or religious life is right for them. Serrans are given contact information for their prayer partners for the purpose of letting them know that they are being prayed for as they discern, and to encourage them in their quest.

          The Serra Club of Erie is the local chapter of Serra USA. There are more than 500 Serra Club chapters in the United States alone, as well as chapters in 46 countries internationally. The club exists as a way for Catholic laypersons to encourage vocations to the priesthood and religious life within their dioceses — something Bishop Persico continues to promote as a top priority for the Diocese of Erie. Member chapters also work to affirm clergy and religious and to let them know how much their service is appreciated by the Catholic community.

         Vocations are needed. If you have an interest in learning how you can help, please visit the club’s web site , or contact Vice-President of Membership, Dennis Deiner, at 814-746-0147.