HistoryPageBoland

In the summer of 2000, Jim DeNike, then a member of the Serra USA Council, asked Peter Paolucci to attempt to organize a Serra Club in Savannah. Some time later, Peter heard Bernard Cardinal Law speak about his experience as keynote speaker at the Serra Convention in Kansas City and the good work Serrans do in promoting vocations. This was a sign that a Serra Club in Savannah was meant to be.

After returning to Savannah, Peter obtained Bishop Boland's endorsement for an exploratory effort to form a Serra Club in Savannah. Fr. Brett Brannen, the Diocesan Vocations Director and the priests of the Savannah Deanery also supported the idea. At least 10 men and women of good will, from various parishes, interested in promoting vocations, were invited to an informational dinner meeting on October 24, 2001 to learn more about how Serra meets critical needs in the church today.

Bishop Boland told the audience that he has heard many good things about Serra's efforts to promote vocations in other dioceses. He asked the attendees to commit themselves to being involved in this Serra formation effort for at least 12 months. In addition, he observed that there are 20 men who are currently studying for the priesthood for the Diocese of Savannah and only one of them is a native of Savannah. "We must do something to produce more vocations from Savannah. I believe that prayer is the key to gaining more vocations here in Savannah," said Bishop Boland. "And having a Serra Club active in the Savannah Deanery should certainly help with the effort to promote vocations here," he concluded.

A few months after the Serra Club was formed here in Savannah, its members had their first opportunity to serve as they turned out in force to cook and serve the meals at a Men's Vocations Retreat. It was a very rewarding experience, which helped build teamwork and solidify the new membership as a club.

In his letter to Serra USA Council supporting the Charter Application, Bishop Boland wrote, "I strongly endorse the formation of a Serra Club in the Diocese of Savannah to encourage vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The Serra Club in Formation has made great strides to get organized, build its membership and live out the Serra Mission. So far about 35 people from numerous parishes throughout the Savannah Deanery have joined the effort. I have been very encouraged by the dedication and enthusiasm of the members. They are clearly on their way to establishing a viable Serra Club here in Savannah, which will help us to increase the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. I hereby authorize the establishment of a Serra Club in the Diocese of Savannah."

On Tuesday evening October 29, 2002, 34 people were inducted into the newly formed, Serra Club of Savannah at a Mass offered at St. James Church, by Fr. Joseph Smith; Frs. Francis Nelson, Adam Kasela and Brett Brannen were concelebrants. Fr. Brannen was the homilist.

At a dinner which followed the Mass, James DeNike, President Elect of the USA Council of Serra, presented the charter from Serra International to Peter Paolucci, President of the Savannah Club #1044 Region 169 District 14. The initial slate of officers was installed as follows:

President: Peter Paolucci
President Elect: Don Waters
VP Programs: Tom Brennan
VP Membership: Byron Stephens
VP Vocations: Julio Aviles
Secretary: Gerald McManus
Treasurer: Marilyn Stephens
Trustees: Leo Espaillat, Joe Hasbrouck, and Frank Saponaro
Chaplains: Fr. Joseph Smith and Fr. Adam Kasela

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