March 3, 2015 – 25th Annual Ordinandi Dinner
SAVE THE DATE – 26TH ANNUAL ORDINANDI DINNER – MARCH 1, 2016
25 years and growing stronger!
On Tuesday, March 3, 2015 a new plateau in support for vocations in the Archdiocese of Toronto was achieved. 2,531 supporters gathered in two sessions at the Pearson Centre in Brampton to celebrate the vocation journey of our six Ordinandi from St. Augustine’s Seminary and Redemptoris Mater Seminary.
The 2015 Ordinandi Dinner continued the wonderful tradition of support for vocations to priestly and religious life established over the previous 24 years. The Archdiocese of Toronto Pastoral Plan, under the leadership of Cardinal Thomas Collins urges us all to adopt, support and encourage a “culture of vocations”. The Ordinandi Dinner has become an important component of instilling and encouraging that culture of vocations in our Archdiocese.
The event is held under the auspices of the Serra Canada Foundation and The Toronto Central Serra Club with the support of the five other Serra Clubs in the Greater Toronto Area, the Archdiocese (including the Vocations Office and Office of Catholic Youth) and more recently, and very significantly, our Catholic educators.
The Ordinandi Dinner is recognized throughout the world as an incredible gathering of Catholic faithful, stepping forward to show support and encouragement for those about to embark on a life of consecrated service to our Lord and to their fellow human beings. On two previous occasions (1994 and 2012) the Ordinandi Dinner has been recognized by Serra International with the Junipero Serra Award for its incredible success in promulgating vocations awareness and support.
This year’s Dinner was marked by one of the most severe snow storms in the 25 year history of the event. Our Greater Toronto Area faithful are used to winter adversities but this was particularly difficult and challenging, not only because of the cold temperatures and heavy snow, but also because of intermittent power failures. However, that did not deter the 832 high school students who attended during the day or the 1,651 individuals who were present for the evening event.
This was our third year with the Ordinandi Youth Event which is held in partnership with our 6 Catholic District School Boards and several independent Catholic high schools. This morning program was focused entirely on our Catholic high school youth. We are simply amazed at the results: 74 Catholic high schools participated with both boys and girls who were hand-selected to attend by their Chaplain or Religion Teacher! The program was organized by a committee comprising 3 Serrans and representatives from each of the 6 Catholic Boards. The morning ended with vocation speeches from one of the 2015 Ordinandi and a member of the Sister of Life congregation, followed by Cardinal Thomas Collins who addressed the 832 Catholic High School students and lead them in Grace Before Meals. We continue to be encouraged by the support from our Catholic educators. Senior staff members from the Toronto, Dufferin-Peel, Durham and York Region Catholic School Boards attended, including the Directors of Education from Durham, Dufferin-Peel and Toronto Catholic School Boards. We are blessed by this support.
The Dinner program was attended by 1,651 individuals who included 198 university-age young adults as a result of our Vocations Awareness program including 70 associated with Serra House and with Fr. Chris Lemieux, the Archdiocesan Director of Vocations. Also noteworthy is the attendance by five college/university Chaplains each with a full table or two of young adults. Other supporters who attended and brought with them young and potential vocation supporters included the Office of Catholic Youth, the Newman Centre and the Squires of the Knights of Columbus.
There are many to thank for this outstanding show of vocations support. In addition to the unceasing support from the Serrans, it would have been impossible to host this event without the help and encouragement from both the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women’s League. The organizing team is very grateful to them.
Many of our diocesan parishes (38) participated and many brought altar servers and potential vocation prospects. We could not maintain our incredible success without the continuing support from our Toronto Archbishop, Cardinal Thomas Collins who attended both the Youth Event and the Dinner program along with Auxiliary Bishops Wayne Kirkpatrick and Vincent Nguyen.
Lastly, the support of our two main sponsors was much appreciated. Novalis, the largest Catholic publishing house in Canada, provided support and material for the youth day event, while Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Toronto provided much appreciated support for the evening.
Serra was honoured to have a number of notable visiting guests including John Liston, Executive Director of Serra International who travelled from Chicago to witness first hand this well known vocations phenomena. Bishop William MacGrattan, from the Diocese of Peterborough, also attended along with Fr. Craig Cruickshank, Director of Vocations, who brought a table of potential vocation prospects from Peterborough Diocese. Fr. Bryan Duggan, Director of Vocations for Vancouver Diocese and also Vancouver Serra Chaplain joined us for the evening , as well as Montreal Serra’s Chaplain, Fr. Robert Gendreau, along with the President of Montreal Serra and Fr. Sylvain from the Montreal Archdiocese Vocations Office, all of whom expressed their interest in establishing their own Ordinandi Dinner in their own areas.
The Ordinandi Dinner is an event intended to raise awareness and not necessarily to raise funds. A modest surplus of approximately $30,000 was achieved and this was distributed to our seminaries and to Serra House.
The Ordinandi Dinner and Youth Day Event is now a hallmark of the vocations awareness effort within the Archdiocese of Toronto. It is a significant event in the calendar of the Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese and provides a wonderful opportunity to recognize and thank our Ordinandi as well as exposing our Catholic youth to the true meaning of a religious vocation.
We are grateful for the support and encouragement received from the Cardinal and the Archdiocese. We extend our appreciation to the Office of Catholic Youth, the Newman Centre, the six Catholic school boards and the independent Catholic schools that participate in the program and to the many faithful, some young and some not so young, who, every year, show their support and encouragement for vocations to religious life by attending.
We look forward to March 1, 2016 when we will be hosting the 26th Annual Ordinandi Dinner under the guidance and protection of St. Junipero Serra.