Eighth-graders honored at Serra Club Vocation Awareness luncheon

By Megan Erbacher

The Message assistant editor

Father Garrett Braun, a former Serra Club Vocation Award winner, speaks to this year’s honorees. Father Braun serves as parochial vicar at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Vincennes and St. Philip Neri Parish in Bicknell. The Message photos by Tim Lilley

Growing up and attending St. John the Baptist Parish in Newburgh, Father Garrett Braun recognized and felt God had given him a conviction or sincerity about his Catholic faith that he couldn’t always relate to in his peers. As he dug deeper into his faith, searching for a sense of belonging and purpose, Father Garrett said it opened his heart to the idea of a vocation to the priesthood.

On Nov. 8, Father Garrett delivered the keynote address during the 2021 Evansville Serra Club Vocation Awareness Luncheon at the Catholic Center in Evansville. Serra Club honored 34 eighth-graders representing 17 diocesan parishes. The program, which coincided with National Vocations Awareness Week from Nov. 7-13, recognized students for creating projects focused on different vocations including priesthood, diaconate, religious life, marriage and lay ministry.

Each year, Serra Club asks students in Evansville-area parishes to create projects related to vocations. Serra Club President John East reported 343 projects were submitted this year. Selected students are invited to the luncheon to receive an award. Also welcome are parents, principals, teachers, pastors and religious educators.

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel congratulates the honorees.

Father Garrett was ordained to the priesthood June 5. He serves as parochial vicar at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Vincennes and St. Philip Neri Parish in Bicknell, and he is a former Serra Club Vocations Award honoree.

“If you feel that maybe you have a sense of conviction about your faith, tap into that,” Father Garrett told students. “Don’t brush that aside in an effort to belong in a way that conforms to what the crowd is doing or to where this world will lead (you). Dig into it in your prayer, and be open to wherever it is God will lead you.”

Bob Smith, Serra Club member, announced award-winners who had their photo taken with Bishop Siegel and East. Winning projects were diverse and ranged in creativity. They included board games, essays, posters, art projects, a scrapbook and slideshow presentations.

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel thanked God for being able to gather again for the event. Bishop Siegel told students it’s important to discern their vocation, not just fall into something but to truly, prayerfully, thoughtfully discern God’s call. While young people often get asked what they want to be when they’re older, the bishop said the question points to God and what he is calling them to be in their life.

Diocese of Evansville Director of Vocations Father Tyler Tenbarge thanks the honorees and their family members in attendance.

Whatever their vocation might be, Bishop Siegel told students to truly ask the Lord to help guide them, lead them and follow his calling because that’s where they’ll find joy and peace in their lives by fulfilling his will.

Before Diocesan Director of Vocations Father Tyler Tenbarge closed the banquet in prayer, he said Bishop Siegel is dedicated to helping people find what God wants them to do. Father Tyler encouraged students that whatever God is calling them to, it’s worth it to find it.


2021 Serra Club Vocation Awareness Winners

Holy Rosary Parish

Jacob Goris

Maggie Raben

Maura Gries

St. James Parish

Lindsey Gunter

Ella Hofman

Good Shepherd Parish

James Elpers

Madelyn Schaefer

Holy Spirit

Reagan Coomes

Madison Thomas

St. Wendel Parish

Madilyn Garrett

Caroline Breeden

Holy Redeemer Parish

Ashlyn Sexton

Abigail Gilmore

Sts. Peter & Paul, Holy Cross and St. James religious education classes

Sam Parmer

Lilly Spindler

St. Philip Parish

Josie Walker

Levi Begge

Resurrection Parish

Natalie Bonham

Cali Rheinlander

St. Benedict Parish

Cate Barron

Audrey Holt

St. Boniface Parish

Madeline Hinman

Rudy Zenthoefer

St. Joseph Parish, Vanderburgh County

Piper Fehrenbacher

Braydn Jones

Annunciation Parish — Christ the King 

Addison Kuhs

Jamaar Merriweather

St. John the Baptist Parish

Jenna Herr

Sarah Ripke

Emma Teague

St. Bernard Parish

Tate Schulte

Alexis Cecil

Corpus Christi Parish

Olivia Spencer

Maddison Higdon