by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The annual Support Our Seminarians benefit dinner has always been a top Catholic social affair with a purpose.
This year, it’s also a family affair with a purpose.
The event co-chair couples — Michael and Patti McInerney, and Jack and Mimi Nagle — have a special connection.
Michael and Mimi are siblings, and Jack and Patty are in-laws.
But it doesn’t end there.
Jack and Mimi Nagle are the parents of Matthew Nagle, in his second year of theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis.
Michael and Patti McInerney are not only the seminarian’s aunt and uncle — they’re his godparents as well.
Both couples belong to Curé of Ars Parish in Leawood. Both were recruited to be co-chair couples by mutual friends Pat and Louise Meyers.
“It’s been fun,” said Mimi Nagle. “Fortunately, we all get along well, so it’s been fun and easy to do. We already know each other, and we’ve been together for other things, so we’re able to bat ideas back and forth.”
Already having that level of familiarity means no one is afraid to say, “That’s a crummy idea,” without offending each other, said Nagle.
This year, SOS will be held on Jan. 25 at the Muehleback Hotel, located at 12th and Wyandotte in Kansas City, Mo. Funds raised at the event benefit seminarians from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, and Conception Seminary College, Conception, Mo.
The SOS benefit dinner has been updated slightly for its 20th anniversary run, said Martha Hodes, the SOS executive director and treasurer.
Beginning this year, each event will be dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under a different title, this year being Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. There will be a display about the Miraculous Medal, and Father Mike Mulhearn, CM, will be there to enroll anyone who wishes to join in the Miraculous Medal Society. Everyone who attends will receive a medal.
Another change is that the live auction has been replaced by a program featuring two speakers — Msgr. William Blacet from Missouri, and Father Rick Storey, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Overland Park.
The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails and a market featuring donated items and baked goods made by the Benedictine monks of Conception Abbey. Although there will not be a live auction, there will be a small VIP silent auction for six items and a raffle for a mink garment.
After the dinner, both Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and Bishop Robert Finn will speak briefly, followed by Msgr. Blacet and Father Storey. The program will be followed by socializing with clergy and seminarians, wrapping up by 10 p.m. or so.
“Last year, people stayed around later while Father Mulhearn played the piano,” said Hodes.
Slightly over 600 persons attended last year, but Hodes hopes that even more will attend this year. As a sign of her optimism, she’s prepared to distribute an additional 200 Miraculous Medals with prayers.
Tickets are $150 per individual, or $1,500 for a table of 10. Donors are encouraged to give at three levels: $5,000 for guardian angel; $10,000 for angel; and $15,000 for archangel.
Over the past 19 years, the SOS has raised $2,845,727. Last year, the net was roughly $135,000.
The SOS events were begun at an absolute low point for vocations for the two dioceses and the seminary. Slowly, through a lot of prayer and hard work, the numbers have steadily risen.
Today, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has 30 men in the seminary, and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has 25 men in discernment and formation.
As the numbers have risen, so, too, has the need to pay for their education.
“This is a great cause,” said Michael McInerney. “Higher education costs a lot of money. I know, because I have kids in college. Seminarians have five or six years of studies, and that’s expensive.”
Matthew Nagle is proud of what his parents and aunt and uncle are doing with SOS.
“I’m really grateful for the SOS in general,” said the seminarian. “Without financial support, I think it would be hard for a lot of guys to go to [the]seminary.”
“I hear that, at other seminaries, they ask [the students] to take out loans,” he continued. “[The prospect of debt] can be a real deterrent for a guy if he’s not sure about his vocation. The fact that our seminarians don’t have to worry about this is really big.”
If you would like to attend the 20th annual SOS, contact Hodes at (913) 207-9893, or by email at: mmmh66@ sbcglobal.net. Or contact Mimi Nagle by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.