Pope John Paul letter

To my dear Brother Cardinal John J. O’Connor

Archbishop of New York

“Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:3).

I was very pleased to learn that Serra International is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding.  On this occasion, I wish to greet all the members of this outstanding lay organization and to offer the assurance of my prayers for them and their families.

From the earliest days of their modest beginnings in the city of Seattle and throughout the years of growth and expansion in the United states and abroad, the members of Serra International have manifested a deep willingness to be of service to the church and have borne witness to the ideals of the lay apostolate as set forth by the Second Vatican Council, serving “through the vigor of their Christian spirit” as a “leaven in the world” (Apostolicam Actuositatem 2).  It is indeed a proud heritage which Serrans share as they look ahead to the future with renewed hope and confidence in the Lord.

The objectives which lie at the foundation of the mission of Serra International are truly important ones.  By living in the world as committed Catholics, called to serve God in their family life, work and social involvements, Serrans exercise their right and their duty to be apostles in the midst of the world, a right and a duty which flow from their union with Christ, the Head of the Mystical Body.  In virtue of their baptism and confirmation, they take their place among the people of God and fulfill the responsibilities which correspond to their state of life.  By practicing the virtues of faith, hope and charity ibn marriage and the family or in the single state, they are drawn closer to Christ, the source of all life and love.  And by using the grace of their personal gifts, always guided by the light of the Gospel and the mind of the church, they go forth as laity to accomplish their distinctive mission, namely the renewal of the temporal order.

These personal goals are complemented by the common goal which they share as members of Serra International and which gives specific focus to their endeavors.  Serrans accept as their responsibility the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  They possess a deep appreciation of the ministerial priesthood as being essential to the church.  Serrans have been generous in offering support and encouragement to those who hear the call to serve Christ in the priesthood.  They also work to give assistance to priests already active in the ministry.  Likewise, the foster vocations among those who witness to the evangelical call to perfection in the religious life and who be their profession of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience enrich the church and build up the body of Christ through their lives of prayer and their respective apostolates.

I am particularly pleased to offer my encouragement to the members of Serra as they move forward in the realization of new projects and initiatives which will serve to promote vocations in the church.  I make my own the words of Saint Peter to Philemon:  “I pray that the sharing of your faith may promote the knowledge of all the good that is ours in Christ” (v.6).

The spread of the Serran apostolate, especially through the establishment of Serra clubs, with thousands of members in all five continents, gives reason to hope that the good work begun in the first 50 years will increase and mature and bring forth ever greater efforts for the good of the church.

On the occasion of this year’s convention, to be held in New York from July 1 to 3, I would ask you to assure the assembled members of Serra International of my spiritual closeness to them.  I extend my heartfelt good wishes in this anniversary year, and I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing, invoking upon their families the peace and joy of Jesus Christ, the son of God and savior of the world.

From the Vatican, June 8, 1985

Pope John Paul II