As Spanish-speaking Serra Club groups are beginning to form across the United States, Serra International is taking its invitational coin initiative one step further with a new “Have You Considered Becoming a Priest” invitational coin and card in Spanish, which can be presented to any young man whom priests or laity deem a potential candidate for the priesthood.
This is the third version of the invitational coin since the original coin was launched in January at the 2023 Serra International Rally in Irving, Texas. The second iteration for religious life was launched in the spring. Since then, more than 6,000 coins have been purchased, and Bob Rudman, Serra International’s vice president of vocations for the executive committee and a member of the Serra Club of Williamson County, said he hopes that this new Spanish version of the original coin sees the same success.
“I see this as a real opportunity for our Serra organization and everyone else to get closer to the Spanish-speaking priests and get to know them and get to understand their culture and to build up a rapport,” Rudman said, noting how he recently volunteered at an event put on by the Hispanic community. “I saw with them how close they are, how friendly they are and like family, so I said to myself, ‘I think that we of our age will never be able to learn Spanish, but it would be neat to have an understanding of their culture.’
“I think that would be a terrific way to build a rapport,” he added. “That’s why I think it’s so important for these coins to find their way into the Spanish community.”
Father Luke Wilgenbusch, director of vocations, said it’s a great initiative, noting that for the last several years it has been an explicit priority for all men in formation for the priesthood in the diocese to learn Spanish.
“The need for more clergy who speak Spanish is very obvious to us,” Father Wilgenbusch said. “As priests, we’re called to serve all of God’s people, and this is a skill that we need to be able to do well in our diocese.
Having the Spanish coin “is a great expansion of the initiative. We’re working very hard to be intentional about reaching out to all of the different communities in the diocese, but we know that our Hispanic community is very large, and we’re not yet doing everything that we can to reach out to them,” he continued.
“It’s great to include the coin in Spanish, especially because what we’re trying to do to promote vocations is encourage priests as well as parishioners to reach out individually to those young men that they see as having a possible vocation to the priesthood,” he concluded. “Giving them this tool is a way of encouraging them to have that conversation.”
Father Juan Carlos Garcia, associate pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Church in Franklin, has already seen the benefit of having the coin available in both English and Spanish.
“I believe having the coins in both languages, not only in one or the other, shows the unity we are seeing in our diocese. As you know, Middle Tennessee continues to grow in diversity, and more and more people from various places are calling Tennessee home,” Father Garcia said. “The third mark of our Church, ‘Catholic’, meaning ‘according to the whole’ or universal, is clearly visible when we welcome and minister to people of various cultures, traditions, and languages in our diocese.
“The majority of the people coming to us are Spanish speakers who are in love with Jesus and His Church. This creates a need for more priests who are either native in Spanish or have the willingness and desire to serve the Spanish-speaking population that is growing dramatically in our diocese,” he continued.
“The vocational coin in both languages does not only enrich a cultural and linguistic dimension but also encompasses a spiritual element. When a man who speaks Spanish receives the vocational coin in the language he more than likely first learned at home and the first tongue that he was first taught to pray by his family, especially his parents and grandparents, it possesses a great spiritual value.
“It hits differently, it seems more personal,” Father Garcia added. “One of the characteristics of this coin is its weight. It is heavy on purpose for the man to feel it in his hands or in his pocket. Having the coin available in Spanish, we are adding a spiritual weight.
“When the man receives the coin in the language he first learned to relate to God,” he concluded, “it is our hope then that he moves from within to a more serious discernment towards the ministerial priesthood.”For more information about the invitational coin program, email Rudman at firstname.lastname@example.org. To order coins, visit www.vianneyvocations.com.