by Jill Ragar Esfeld
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If you bake it, they will come.
Bakery products from Conception Abbey in Conception, Missouri, were definitely a draw for patrons filling the main floor of Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri, at the 26th annual Support Our Seminarians benefit on Jan. 25.
But equally attractive was the opportunity for members of both the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to join together in support of the formation of the next generation of priests.
“When you support the gift of the priesthood,” said Deacon Nicholas Ashmore, “you are joining in on the mission of the man.”
A seminarian from our archdiocese, Deacon Ashmore was one of the evening’s guest speakers and charmed the crowd as he recalled the moment in fourth grade when he served his first Mass and observed the consecration.
“I remember gazing up as [the priest] lifted up Our Lord to the people of God,” he said. “And I remember thinking, ‘One day I’m going to be there.’
“And God willing, four months from today, that will be true.”
Indeed, Deacon Ashmore will be ordained on May 25.
The 2019 SOS was dedicated to Our Lady of Ephesus and her house in the ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey. Images of her graced the walls and the silent auction tables.
Bill Quatman, a member of Visitation Parish in Kansas City, Missouri, and president of the American Society of Ephesus gave a talk on Our Lady and the work of the organization founded by his grandfather in 1955.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann led the opening prayer, saying, “We place our seminarians under Our Lady’s mantle and ask her to inspire them to imitate her ‘fiat’ to God’s will.”
The evening’s masters of ceremonies, Lamar Hunt Jr. and Jeremy Lillig, thanked all the volunteers who made SOS a success and recognized this year’s event chairs, Bill and Denise Quatman.
Hunt also thanked the seminarians for their hard work, saying the young men were “a sign of light, a sign of hope, a sign of charity for all of us.”
Cards featuring pictures of the seminarians were at each place setting during dinner, and patrons were encouraged to keep them as reminders to pray for the future priests.
In addition to being given opportunities to purchase raffle tickets for a football autographed by Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce and a champagne mink coat donated by Anne Kettering Klein, they were also given a chance to fill out donation cards and participate in a spiritual bouquet organized for the seminarians through Easter of this year.
By evening’s end, the bouquet consisted of 1,056 Masses; 1,249 rosaries; 140 days of fasting; 425 hours of Scripture reading; 1,021 Divine Mercy chaplets; 324 hours of eucharistic adoration; and 102 Stations of the Cross.
The highlight of the event was the moment when the seminarians came on stage, followed by the priests who help form them.
“Please give generously to help these men who are courageously answering God’s call,” Hunt told the audience, which gave the young men a standing ovation.
The seminarians were clearly grateful.
“Through your donations, through your prayers,” said Deacon Ashmore, “you’re allowing my brothers — and future generations of young men like me who may now be in fourth grade waiting to serve — to live the life God has designed for them. Your gifts truly make an impact on my life and the lives of all my brothers.”