by Jill Ragar Esfeld
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One hundred was the magic number at the annual Support Our Seminarians (SOS) benefit dinner at Union Station here on Jan. 27.
“One hundred seminarians!” announced Conception Abbey’s Abbot Benedict Neenan, OSB, as he took the stage. “Twice the number we had at the first SOS 25 years ago!”
The evening, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, included a “marketplace” where many donated items were available for sale, along with delicious bakery products made at Conception Abbey in Conception, Missouri.
Retired Kansas City newscaster Larry Moore, who has been the master of ceremonies for the annual event since its beginning, was on hand with his wife Ruth to announce their continued support for vocations. But he turned the master of ceremonies duties over to Curé of Ars, Leawood, parishioner and FOX 4 reporter Kathy Quinn.
“We’re very proud of the success of SOS,” he said. “And we’re grateful for the many volunteers that made it possible.”
Quinn began the evening by introducing the chairs of this year’s benefit dinner — her brother, Donald Quinn, and his wife Mary.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph flew in from the March for Life in Washington, D.C., just in time to speak to the guests.
“It’s been an amazing, inspiring day,” said Bishop Johnston referring to the march. “There were people as far as the eye could see.
“The young church full of faith putting their enthusiasm and joy at the service of love.”
The bishop spoke with pride about the many seminarians at the march from both dioceses.
“We have to provide the right encouragement for the seeds of faith to grow in these young men,” he said.
He thanked the audience for their prayers and contributions that support the men who “one day will become your priests.”
Archbishop Naumann echoed that thanks.
“These great seminarians come from families like those gathered here,” he said, “families that value the priesthood — the numbers are good, but the quality is equally important.”
Abbot Benedict urged the audience to recognize that quality in young people and to guide them to consider religious vocations.
“They need encouragement,” he said. “Often just someone saying, ‘Have you ever thought about being a priest?’ or ‘I think you would make a good Sister,’ is all it takes.”
Curé of Ars pastor Father Richard Storey gave a talk on Our Lady of Fatima — the theme for the evening.
He spoke of Mary’s “fiat,” saying, “We’re each called in that same way.”
And he addressed the seminarians saying, “Don’t give into despair, don’t think you’re not worthy. You are worthy.”
Seminarian Cruz Gallegos described his own discernment, recounting the time he spent in eucharistic adoration, as well as his devotion to the rosary and Our Lady of Guadalupe.
He talked about the importance of supporting seminarians with prayers and financial contributions.
“Because of you,” he said to the audience, “I and my brother seminarians are able to learn and pray in peace without worrying about finances.
The seminarians took to the stage to a standing ovation as guests filled out donor cards.
The proceeds from the evening support young men in formation for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and Conception Seminary College.