‘Fruit of your prayers’

18th annual SOS event raises thousands of dollars for seminarians


by Jill Ragar Esfeld
Special to The Leaven

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — “I am delighted with the number,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of this year’s seminarians to the hundreds of supporters gathered at the annual Support Our Seminarians benefit dinner and auction here on Jan. 28.

“But [I’m] even more delighted with the men,” he continued. “They are the fruit of your prayers.”

More than 700 guests attended the 18th annual Support our Seminarians (SOS) benefit dinner and auction, breaking last year’s record crowd.

The event, held at the Marriott Allis Plaza Hotel, benefits seminarians from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. It also supports Conception Seminary College in Conception, Mo.

The evening began with a social hour, during which guests toured the Marketplace, a silent auction with close to 200 items.

KMBC-TV anchor Larry Moore was master of ceremonies, as he has been every year since he and his wife spearheaded the first SOS benefit.

Before dinner, Abbot Gregory Polan, OSB, of Conception Abbey led a hymn. Then Mike Debus, a live-art performance painter, delighted the dinner crowd by turning a huge blank canvas into the face of Christ.

Decorating each table was a centerpiece crucifix hand-crafted by Bob Cunningham and offered for sale to benefit Conception Seminary College.

After dinner, Bishop Robert Finn from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph thanked all those who work to support the formation of men to the priesthood.

Archbishop Naumann followed, assuring the audience that as long as the Catholic Church is ordaining dedicated priests, “the church will prosper.”

The archbishop then called attention to the parents of seminarians and thanked them.

“What a great gift they give to the church, handing down their faith to their sons,” he said.

Abbot Gregory then led an enthusiastic round of applause for all the seminarians and introduced Father Samuel Russell, the president-rector of Conception Seminary College.

As the Nigro Brothers prepared to call the live auction, Moore thanked all those who helped make SOS a success — in particular, chairs Pat and Louise Meyers and Steve and Sharon Perry.

Debus’ live painting was the first item on the auction block, followed by trips, dinners, and even an opportunity to bid on three energetic seminarians to do house chores for one day.

Donations from the night have not yet been finalized, but preliminary numbers look promising.

Martha Hodes, the event’s organizer, said the live auction alone raised more than $56,000 and believed the totals would outshine the 2010 event, which cleared $145,473.

Altogether, from 1994 through 2010, the SOS event has raised $2,710,427 in support of seminarians.

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