Due to increased demand, the dinner moved to a new Brampton location this year with more than 1,700 in attendance including hundreds of students from Catholic high schools throughout the Archdiocese.
It's always inspiring to hear the stories of the future priests in our community. Tuesday night was no different with 11 men sharing their personal journey. Your class of 2010 (God willing) will include: a widowed husband with three grown children, a former dairy farmer from Nova Scotia, immigrants from India, El Salvador, Poland and Croatia to name just a few. The seminarians who spoke last night will go on to serve in six dioceses across the country, with the Archdiocese of Toronto eagerly awaiting the arrival of five new shepherds.
More than a few of the vocation stories were nurtured from World Youth Days including Toronto's own in 2002. I can recall being asked days after the event what the impact would be in our country and around the world. It would, in many ways, takes months and years for things to come to fruition and now we're seeing some of those fruits ripening before our eyes.
Whenever you get a chance to hear these vocation stories, you're struck at just how diverse they are. That's the beauty of the priesthood and religious life. Our vocations come from all walks of life, backgrounds, skill sets, ethnic communities, ages and economic situations. You might say in that way that God is an equal opportunity employer.
Thanks to the Serra Clubs of the Archdiocese who work so diligently to make this event a success year to year. In a special way, they should be commended for their hard work in securing the attendance of more than 35 schools (including 6 university chaplaincies) with hundreds of young people on hand to hear the vocation stories. Who knows? Perhaps the Class of 2020 was in our midst...
While we're at it a "shout out" to the Catholic Women's League for their incredible support of the seminarians. As part of their presentation Tuesday night, they offered a "spiritual bouquet" to the Class of 2010 that included literally hundreds of thousands of masses, rosaries, novenas and other prayers in solidarity with those who have said "yes" to the call. The CWL tallies the spiritual support of its membership each year and the announcement of the spiritual bouquet is always greeted with oohs and ahs - a real reminder of the role that each one of us plays in nurturing vocations to the priesthod and religious life.
While we may not go so far as the Canadian Olympic Committee to start our unique "Own the Altar" program, 1,760+ people coming together in solidarity isn't a bad way to foster a culture of vocations in our Archdiocese. And we're not looking for medals, just a few good souls...
Photos: Archdiocese of Toronto