Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Serra Club Honors Young People For Vocations Projects

Serra Club President John East, left, welcomes everyone to the Vocations Awards Luncheon on Nov. 2 at the Catholic Center. Joining him at the head table are Bishop Joseph M. Siegel, Serra Club Chaplain Deacon Richard Preske and Father Tyler Tenbarge.

Serra Club President John East called the group’s Nov. 2 Vocation Awards Luncheon at the Diocese of Evansville Catholic Center “our Super Bowl.

“We work throughout the year on a number of different projects,” he explained, “but this is our Super Bowl. After this event, we will take a bit of a break and then start a ‘new season’ after the first of the year.”

As he welcomed students and their parents, teachers, catechists and pastors to the luncheon, he made a point of giving thanks. “I want to especially thank parents for making the choice to send your children to Catholic schools,” he said.

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel also gave thanks as he welcomed everyone to the luncheon. “I am grateful for all that the Serra Club does,” he said. The bishop explained that he was about the same age as the honorees at the luncheon when he began considering a vocation to the priesthood.

He encouraged the honorees to spend quiet time in prayer, adoration and just listening, urging them to let God speak to their hearts. He suggested a simple prayer for such times: “Lord, help me to know what you want me to do with my life.”

Following Bishop Siegel’s comments, Serra Club Chaplain Deacon Richard Preske offered a prayer before the meal. Everyone then enjoy salad, pizza and fruit before East and Bishop Siegel recognized the honorees. Each had completed a project related to vocations.

The presentations focused on vocations to the priesthood, religious life, married life and lay single life. Some wrote essays. Other created Power Point presentations. At least one honoree wrote a song and made a music video featuring that song.

Father Tyler Tenbarge gave the keynote presentation. He serves as associate pastor of St. Boniface Parish in Evansville and the chaplain of the diocese’s new Father Deydier House of Discernment, which is located on St. Boniface’s Sacred Heart Campus.

“When I was a kid, I told everyone I was going to be a priest,” Father Tenbarge said. “I don't remember doing that, and my family and teachers tell me that they did not suggest the idea to me.”

He talked about resisting God’s call to the priesthood for some time, saying that he finally opened himself to listening to that call.

“A few weeks ago, some of the guys at the House of Discernment asked me why I am not preaching and pushing priesthood on them more,” Father Tenbarge said. “I told them that if I pushed them toward priesthood, then they would go but not freely. Or, they would not go because they were tired of it.

“I told them, rather, that my job was to help them develop their prayer lives, spiritual habits, good connections and the like so that they fall in love with God. Then, their vocations will stand before their eyes. So pray, discern, try different ways of giving yourself away, and your vocation will become manifest.”

Editor’s note – The Message will publish a longer excerpt of Father Tenbarge’s keynote in the Nov. 16. issue.