by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Riddle me this: What has trivia but is absolutely not trivial?
That would be the annual Seminarian Trivia Night, a fundraising effort to support our seminarians, which will take place from 6:30-9 p.m. on May 26.
The theme this year is: “An Ordination Celebration.” It’s sponsored by the archdiocesan vocation office.
Since the annual event’s revival in 2019, the Seminarian Trivia Night has featured fun, prizes and opportunities to meet the young men who could be at your parish’s altar someday.
This year’s event features the same — but with a twist.
The trivia night is going virtual, thanks to ongoing efforts to deal with the COVID pandemic.
Actually, this is a good thing, explained Father Dan Morris, archdiocesan vocation director.
“In previous years, we’ve been limited in space and by capacity — the number of tables we could fit in the parish hall at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood,” he said. “That was about 30 tables.”
Because the event is virtual, not only can there be more teams, but there can also be teams from all over the archdiocese.
“Last year, we had to max out at 30 teams,” said Father Morris. “This year, we hope to have each parish have no less than one team represented. . . . We’d like to get up to 75 or 100 teams participating.”
“At the end of the day,” he added, “to celebrate the ordination of men to the priesthood for the archdiocese is really a celebration that the whole church should embrace.”
Beth Bracken, director of Christian formation at St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee, has been an enthusiastic participant in past trivia nights.
“We enjoy getting together,” said Bracken. “It’s just a lot of fun. Best of all, we support the seminarians and get to know them as well — to know who we’re praying for. So, the next time you pass by a vocation poster, you can say, ‘That’s the guy who was at our table.’ It helps us remember them, and them to remember us.”
This year, the teams will gather as small groups at their preferred location — a home, a parish or somewhere else — and be linked via Zoom to the “main station” and master of ceremonies Jerry Wonderlich, a member of St. Michael the Archangel. He and his scoring team will run the event. The experience will be sort of like a TV game show.
Parishioners are urged to sign up early via the trivia night website so they can purchase tickets, participate in the 50-50 raffle, bid on the silent auction items and — in a change from previous years — bid on a seminarian for the night.
During previous trivia nights, the seminarians would circulate during the seven rounds to visit each table. This year, the teams with the highest bids get the privilege of hosting a seminarian at their team gathering.
About 18 seminarians are participating in the auction. One of them is George Rhodes, now attending Kenrick- Glennon Seminary in St. Louis.
Why should participants bid on him?
“Because I’m the most fun guy there is to hang out with,” he said modestly.
Actually, all the seminarians are fun guys, and they’re all very grateful for the financial and moral support archdiocesan Catholics give them as they study and go through formation, he added.
Of course, all the questions for trivia night will be brilliant, witty, entertaining, profound and catechetical — written by Father Morris and Msgr. Michael Mullen, co-director of seminarians.
“Each round will contain one question that opens up a conversation about something [participants] may not know about our archdiocese, vocations, discernment or the priesthood,” said Father Morris.
Which means it would be worth a high bid to make sure you get a seminarian on your team!
Each round will feature cash prizes consisting of $25 gift cards — one for those 18 years and younger, and one for those 19 years old and older. There will also be a grand prize awarded that night.
To participate, contact your pastor to form teams or sign up as an individual. When you sign up on the website, you can also purchase tickets ($25 per individual), bid for a seminarian, participate in the 50-50 raffle and bid in the private auction.
The website is: one.bidpal.net/seminarians/welcome.
“This is a great opportunity to come together as church and support this really great ministry,” said Bracken. “By taking part in the trivia night, we’re supporting our seminarians through financial gifts and letting them know we’re behind them, cheering them on and praying for them.”