Vocation groups to receive Marquette Awards at Nov. 15 Mass

Groups in the Champaign and Peoria areas that promote vocations and support priests in their ministry will receive Pere Marquette Awards during a Diocesan Mass of Thanksgiving planned for Sunday, Nov. 15, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will confer the diocesan recognition for outstanding service on the Serra Club of Champaign-Urbana and the Peoria Area Religious Vocations Support Group.

“For decades your members have worked to encourage vocations to the priesthood and to support our seminarians,” wrote Bishop Jenky in a letter notifying the two groups of the honor, which comes as the church observes a Year for Priests declared by Pope Benedict XVI.

“While it is the responsibility of every parent and the challenge of every priest to be ‘associate vocation directors,’ these two groups are unique vocation leaders in our diocese,” said Bishop Jenky. He called their efforts “examples of how to build up a culture of vocation.”

THE MASS of Thanksgiving, which will also celebrate the harvest, begins at 10:30 a.m. and will be followed by a light reception at the Spalding Pastoral Center. The public is invited, and all past recipients of the Pere Marquette Award received special invitations.

The bestowing of diocesan honors — including the Pere Marquette Award, Spalding Medal, and the St. Isidore Rural Family Life Award — became a fall tradition during the past decade. In 2008 the honors programs were suspended because of fall activi relating to the opening of the new Spalding Pastoral Center.

“I am very happy to announce that we will continue this important tradition this year with the celebration of a Diocesan Mass of Thanksgiving, during which we will recognize new honorees and give thanks for the continued witness of our previous honorees,” wrote Bishop Jenky in a letter to previous award recipients.

THE PERE Marquette Award recognizes “outstanding contribution to the spread of the Gospel and the building up of the Kingdom of God in our local church.” This marks the first time the honor has gone to entire groups, rather than individuals.

Representatives of both groups told The Catholic Post this week members are honored the bishop chose them for the recognition.

The Serra Club of the Champaign-Urbana Vicariate has promoted vocations to the priesthood and religious life for 36 years. The group currently has 23 members that meet twice a month — on the second and fourth Mondays — at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois.

It is the only group in the Diocese of Peoria chartered with Serra International, which fosters, affirms and promotes vocations to ministry in the Catholic church.

The club hosts a summer picnic for priests, deacons, and women religious as well as a banquet at the end of November. Members “adopt” priests to support with prayer and encouragement throughout the year. John Smith is club president and Msgr. Albert Hallin is chaplain.

THE PEORIA Area Religious Vocations Support Group was formed in 1988 and sponsors or supports an annual summer golf outing and dinner for seminarians and priests and a Christmas party for seminarians. Each club member — and there are presently 66 — has a seminarian they regularly contact and support in prayer. The group’s membership represents 38 households from five different parishes.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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