The first Tuesday in March brings with it an annual tradition in the Archdiocese of Toronto with this year's 21st Ordinandi Dinner bringing together the Class of 2011 from St. Augustine's Seminary. This year was no different with a record 1,886 people coming from throughout the Archdiocese and beyond to support our (God willing) soon to be diocesan priests in what has to be one of the largest faith dinners in the country.
An initiative of local Serra clubs and under the steady direction of original founder, Mario Biscardi, this year's dinner was the largest ever - trust me when I say there really was nary a seat to be had in the room March 1.
One of the great things about the annual Ordinandi Dinner is that it brings together a complete cross section of individuals from across the Archdiocese. Working the room, you'll come across clergy, women and men from religious communities, parishioners, students, teachers, business folks, retirees, essentially the body of Christ in our Archdiocese - heck in a room of 1,900 I even heard a baby cry out - now that's commitment!
The highlight of the evening each year is the chance to hear directly from our future priests as they share their own vocation story. It's a great opportunity for people to understand that the priests we see before us in ministry didn't necessarily feel the call from day one. This year's class include a number of converts to the faith as well as men who originally felt called to different vocations. From lawyers to accountants, mountain climbers to biochemists, engineering students to one studying Restoration Stone carving (yes, really), you can safely say that the backgrounds of these men are as diverse as the cultures and communities they represent.
10 graduates of the St. Augustine's Class of 2011, who range in age from 26-40, will be ordained to serve the diocesan priesthood in Toronto, Hamilton, Kingston, Peterborough, Ottawa, Calgary and Charlottetown. The theme of family rang throughout many of the presentations in touching and very personal ways. Prior to the dinner, the Class of 2011 had the chance to meet with hundreds of high school students in a private reception allowing for a personal exchange that may just be planting the seeds of future vocations in our country. You can see photos of the Class of 2011 along with brief bios here.
Just think, a Catholic function where you experience a reception, head table procession (with our own diocesan priest Fr. Phil Kennedy on bagpipes leading the charge), dinner, presentations and final goodbyes all done by 9:25 p.m. - heavenly. Walking away from it all you can't help but feel nourished physically and spiritually, inspired by the 10 men who will serve as shepherds of our faith throughout the country.
We continue to pray for the Class of 2011 and all those considering a religious vocation or currently in formation. Thanks to Serra Clubs throughout the Archdiocese for their extensive efforts in the area of vocations and to all who made the evening an inspiring one.
They say that March can come in like lion or a lamb but this March 1st, arrived like sheep, with 10 men preparing to feed their flock for years to come! Blessings to our newest shepherds!
Photos: Archdiocese of Toronto