Bishop David Choby talks to seminarians of the Diocese of Nashville at the conclusion of the sixth annual Seminarian Education Dinner and Auction held Wednesday, May 20, at Holy Family Church in Brentwood which raised funds to help pay for the seminarians education. Photos by Andy Telli
The sixth annual Seminarian Education Dinner and Auction, held Wednesday, May 20, at Holy Family Church in Brentwood, drew the largest crowd in the short history of the event.
“I just think it was a fantastic evening for everybody,” said Bob Rudman, chairman of the dinner, which drew more than 600 people from across the Diocese of Nashville.
“The first year we had 137 folks attend. We raised $6,000 to give the bishop” to help defray some of the costs of educating the diocese’s seminarians, Rudman said. Last year, the dinner drew more than 560 people and raised $100,000.
“This year our goal was $125,000. All the numbers are not in, but I would say the live auction items, we probably doubled what we did in the previous year,” Rudman said. “We’re hoping we will reach if not surpass the goal of $125,000.”
Among the items highlighting the live auction were three drawings of Popes Benedict XVI and Francis by Igor Babailov of Brentwood, who has painted the official papal portraits of John Paul II, Benedict and Francis, as well as political and business leaders from around the world. Babailov attended the dinner and auction and autographed several copies of his book, “Greatest Portrait Moments.”
“The fact that we had Igor was a highlight,” Rudman said. “I know that he was thrilled to be part of it.”
|Father Justin Raines, above, associate pastor of Holy Family Church in Brentwood, along with Fathers Daniel Reehil and John Hammond and Deacon Austin Gilstrap, donated an Italian dinner prepared by them, which was auctioned.
Bishop David Choby thanked the people attending the dinner for their generosity and support and “the outpouring of affection and dedication that makes possible events like this.”
The diocese has 25 seminarians studying at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, the North American Callege in Rome, Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, Texas, St. Andrew Seminary in South Orange, New Jersey, and Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. Five of them will be ordained priests in June, and more men are expected to enter the seminary in the fall.
“The men who have stepped forward to prepare to serve the Church are a manifestation of God’s grace at work,” Bishop Choby said.
The diocese spends close to $1 million on educating the seminarians.
The growth in the number of seminarians has fueled the growth of the dinner and auction, Rudman said. “The whole thing as far as I’m concerned is the work of the Holy Spirit. Who would have known six years ago we would have the painter of the popes in our audience.”
The dinner and auction is co-sponsored by the Serra Clubs of Williamson County and Nashville and the Knights of Columbus. The Serra Club is dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the Knights have several programs that support vocations and the Church, from the parish level to the Vatican.
Both organizations provided volunteers to help at the dinner and auction.
|Seminarian Michael Nolte, left, and Bill Strebel of the Knights of Columbus and St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro, talk during the sixth annual Seminarian Education Dinner and Auction.
“Our principles are charity, unity and fraternity. Buy anyone who spends any time with us knows our unwritten principle is our support of the priesthood,” said Steve Comm, the incoming State Deputy for the Tennessee Knights of Columbus. “The dinner is a visible means of doing what it is we feel God has asked us to do. It’s what we’re all about.”
The Knights’ support for their parishes, priests and dioceses starts with supporting seminarians, Comm said.
Among the items auctioned were:
• A bronze statue of St. Francis of Assisi, donated by St. Mary’s Bookstore, that sold for $3,500, more than four times its stated value.
• An Italian dinner for eight prepared by Fathers Justin Raines, John Hammond, Daniel Reehil and Deacon Austin Gilstrap, which sold for $2,900.
• Dinner for eight at the Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia that sold for $2,300.
The dinner was sponsored by the Serra Clubs of Williamson County and Nashville and the Knights of Columbus. Potential bidders, at left, look over the silent auction items.
• Dinner for eight with Bishop David Choby and prepared by Master Chef Chris Holmes of the Clean Plate Club catering, which sold for more than $4,000.
There were also several pieces of art and several stays in beachside condos that were auctioned.
“The first six items (in the live auction) brought in about $14,400,” Rudman said. “That’s a sizeable amount of money which is great.”
Organizers tried a few new twists this year, including having some of the people who donated auction items speak about them and having Michelle Daigle, a parishioner at St. Philip Church in Franklin, sing “Ave Maria.” She was accompanied on the piano by Father Hammond.
A website also was created for the dinner and auction, which allowed people to view the auction items ahead of time, and several people who contacted organizers about making a donation even though they couldn’t attend the dinner, Rudman said.
People can still send in donations, he added. They should make the checks payable to Serra Club of Williamson County, with a notation the money is for the Seminarian Education Fund. The donation can be mailed to Serra Club of Williamson County, c/o St. Philip Church, 113 Second Ave. S., Franklin, TN 37064, or to the Diocese of Nashville, 2400 21st Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212.
The sponsors of the event also helped keep costs down so more of the money raised could be used for the seminarians, Rudman said. Among the sponsors were: Mary Queen of Angels assisted living facility; St. Henry Property Management; Taylor, Pigue Marchetti and Blair law firm; Msgr. Bernard Niedergeses; Catholic Business League; Father Ryan High School; The Human Capital Group; Olympian Construction Col; and Premier Parking.
“Last year we got $24,000 in sponsors. This year I think we surpassed that,” Rudman said.
“It’s great teamwork,” said Rudman, who credited the volunteers and the caterers Michael and Jane Holmes. “The caterer was so willing to work with us. We had people showing up at the last minute. We were able to accommodate everybody who came.”
“It was a real neat evening all around,” Rudman said.