By Melanie Sisinni

          Each year, the Serra Club of Erie holds an Installation Mass and Dinner during which they install new members of the group and honor an outstanding priest,

Father Scott Jabo gives the homily at the Installation
Mass at Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel, 
Photo/Melanie Sisinni

deacon, sister and layperson of the year. This year, the Mass was held on June 6 at Gannon’s Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel, followed by dinner at the Yehl Ballroom. Father Michael Ferrick, Deacon Thomas McAraw, Sister Michele Marie Schroeck, RSM, Dan and Dawn Schaaf were the 2023 honorees.

         Father Michael Ferrick has served as rector at St. Peter Cathedral, Erie, for the last ten years, most notably overseeing the extensive restoration of the church building through the added challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. Father Ferrick is known for his drive to create a sense of community with his brother priests, hosting weekly fellowship for East and West Deaneries priests in the Cathedral rectory.

         In his acceptance speech, Father Ferrick thanked the priests, deacons and women religious of the diocese who have impacted his vocation and gave special thanks to the laypeople of the diocese.

         “Ask any priest or sister, ‘Who are the holiest people you know?’ The people you serve,” said Father Ferrick.

         Deacon Thomas McAraw was introduced to the group by Dennis Deiner, incoming vice president of membership. Deacon McAraw taught at the elementary school level for 35 years in the Fort LeBoeuf School District. Deacon McAraw wears many hats for the diocese, working as the director of deacons for the Permanent Diaconate Program and the diocesan spiritual director for Cursillo in addition to his responsibilities at All Saints Parish in Waterford.

         “I met Deacon Tom at Cursillo and was immediately impressed by his devotion and sincerity,” said Deiner.

         When addressing the group, Deacon McAraw discussed the importance of “accepting grace the way you give grace.”

         “Life equals ministry equals life,” said Deacon McAraw. “I am a better person from the grace I receive from everybody else because the gift is in the giving.”

Father Michael Ferrick shakes hands with Norm
Stark who nominated Father Ferrick for his award.
Photo/Melanie Sisinni

         Sister Michele Marie Schroeck, RSM, was honored for her work with the Sisters of Mercy and the Mercy Institute, the highest governing body of the Sisters of Mercy. She maintains many neighborhood outreach programs, especially those that help children and families in need.

         “I keep thinking of Ephesians 4 and the call to live a life worthy of the calling you have received,” said Sister Michele. “With this honor, I now feel a desire to live my faith better, deeper and with more compassion.”

         Charlie Rutkowski, president of the Erie Serra Club for 2023-2024, introduced Dan and Dawn Schaaf for their award as Outstanding Laypersons of the Year, noting their motto.

         “They will tell you ‘they are third,’” said Rutkowski. “Meaning Christ is first, family and friends are second and they are third.”

         “It is an honor to be recognized in the same category as these three wonderful individuals simply by living out our lives — as Dawn says, ‘simply by living out our lives doing whatever it is He tells us to do,’” said Dan Schaaf.

The Installation Dinner took place in Gannon's
Yehl Ballroom.
Photo/Melanie Sisinni

         Bishop Lawrence Persico offered the closing blessing for the program and delivered his remarks about the evening and honorees.

         “I want to take this opportunity to thank the Serra Club for their support of vocations,” said Bishop Persico. “Your work is important, and I’m very grateful for it.” 

For more information about the Serra Club of Erie, visit: https://www.serraerie.org/