Seminarian Education Dinner
Tuesday, May 20, 6-9 p.m., Holy Family Catholic Church
Tickets are $65 each; corporate sponsorships available
More info: Seminarian Dinner and Auction
As the Diocese of Nashville prepares to celebrate the largest priestly ordination in its history this summer, members of the Serra Club, the Knights of Columbus and others who work diligently to support vocations are planning their largest ever Seminarian Education Dinner.
The goal this year, said Joe Imorde, this year’s dinner chairman, is to break the $100,000 mark. “It’s significantly more than we’ve done before…but it’s always good to have a high goal,” he said.
Now in its fifth year, the Seminarian Education Dinner has become the single largest fundraising event of the year to support the diocese’s 34 seminarians.
“We’re trying to raise money, but we’re also trying to recognize these seminarians who have committed their life in service of Christ. Here’s a way to visibly say thank you,” said Imorde, a member of Holy Family Church and the Serra Club of Williamson County.
The dinner will be held 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, May 20, at Holy Family Church in Brentwood.
It is sponsored by the Serra Clubs of Williamson County and Nashville and the Knights of Columbus. The Serra Club is an organization of lay Catholics who support vocations to the priesthood and religious life. One of the Knights of Columbus’ many activities is support for vocations.
This year’s dinner will feature a reception with live music, a sit down dinner and a silent and live auction. Some of the auction items include a high tea at the Dominican Motherhouse, lunch with former Tennessee Titan Eddie George, Southwest airline tickets, and “lots of things in between,” according to Imorde.
Organizers are arranging for as many seminarians as possible to be present at the event; they will also help serve the dinner to guests, along with members of the Catholic Youth Organization.
“The coordination with the diocese, the Serra Club and the Knights is really critical” to the success of the dinner, Imorde said.
In addition to offering financial support for vocations, the Serrans and the Knights support seminarians in other ways as well. Members of the Serra club send prayer cards and care packages to the Nashville seminarians throughout the year and the Knights sponsor the RSVP program, in which local councils provide gifts and prayers to the seminarians.
Members of the Serra Club and the Knights of Columbus are working hard to spread the word about the dinner, and will have display tables up in some of the larger parishes over the next few weeks to sell tickets. They will also be using bulletin announcements and a link on the diocese’s website to increase awareness of the dinner.
“The challenge is selling 550 tickets and getting people there,” said Imorde. “The key is the parishes.”
Bishop David Choby has made priestly vocations a top priority, and the number of seminarians has increased dramatically during his tenure. In addition to the nine men to be ordained in July, five more are on track for ordination in 2015. Including those men, the Diocese of Nashville currently has 34 men studying in seminaries in Columbus, Ohio; New Orleans; San Antonio, Texas; and Rome.
With more men studying for the priesthood than any time in recent memory, the cost of funding their education is also higher than ever before as well. The diocese pays about $26,000 per year for each seminarian’s tuition, room and board. The Seminarian Education Dinner is an important part of the diocese’s on-going efforts to raise the funds necessary to cover the seminarians’ tuition fees. A significant portion of funds raised through the Bishop’s Annual Appeal are also dedicated to educating seminarians.
Imorde wants people to realize that “It’s not just the bishop, and the Serra Club that promote vocations. It’s everybody.”
As a cradle Catholic, Imorde attended Catholic schools his entire life and was educated by nuns, brothers and Jesuits. “They all showed me the importance of vocations,” he said.
Reflecting on the importance of supporting vocations, Imorde said, “Without priests there’s no Eucharist. Without Eucharist, there’s no Catholicism. When you look at it that way, vocations are extremely important.”