The History of Serra

1930’s In 1935, founders Dan Rooney, Leo Sharkey, Richard Ward and Harold Haberle organized luncheon meetings for business and professional men to exchange ideas on Catholic thought.  The primary objective was to encourage priestly vocations.  John Bray suggested naming the club after Father Junipero Serra.

1940’s Prayer for Vocations added to clubs objective of fellowship and Catholic discussion.  Objective expanded to include religious.  Organized Serra International at first constitutional convention in 1938  “University of Christian Principles” urged by Samuel Cardinal Stritch.  In 1947, Serra International established office headquarters in Chicago.

1950’s Serra International Foundation established.  Serra extends to Canada, Mexico, Peru, England and Italy.  Aggregated to the Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations in 1951.

1960’s Serra extends to Spain, Venezuela, Brazil, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Australia.  Serra participates in the First International Vocation Congress, Rome 1962.

1970’s National Councils of Great Britain and Brazil established.  Serra becomes a member organization of the U.S. National Catholic Vocations Conference.

1980’s Serra extends to New Zealand, Ghana, Nigeria and Switzerland.  Serra participates in the Second International Vocation Congress in 1981.  In 1986, women are admitted as members.  The National Councils of Spain, Italy, Mexico and the Philippines are established.  “Called by Name” adopted by U.S. Bishops for use in every diocese.  Four USA/Canada committees established: Vocations, Program, Membership and Communications.

1990’s USA/Canada Council (USACC) and the Serra council of Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific (SCANZSPAC) ARE FORMED.  Downtown Chicago Serra office headquarters move from Monroe Street to Wacker Place.  Serrans around the world accept the challenge of becoming the “Vocation Arm of the Church.”

2000 The Holy See dedicated Dec. 7, 2000 to Serra International as the Vocation Day of the Jubilee, which represents a special recognition by the universal church of Serra’s significance as a lay organization.  In June 2000, the Canadian Council formed.