The 29th Annual Ordinandi Dinner continues the tradition ….

On Tuesday, March 5, 2019, under the prayerful watch of St. Junipero Serra and inspired by our Lord’s invocation that “I have chosen you out of the world” (John 15:19) as the theme selected by the Ordinandi Class of 2019, 2,389 supporters from the Archdiocese of Toronto gathered in two sessions at the Pearson Center in Brampton to celebrate the vocation journey of our nine Ordinandi from St. Augustine’s Seminary and Redemptoris Mater Seminary.

The 2019 Ordinandi Dinner continued the wonderful tradition of support for vocations to priestly and religious life established over the previous 28 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. In addition, this event permits the faithful to show in a demonstrative way their support and affection for the men embarking on a life of service to God’s church and His people. The Class of 2019 included nine men from different backgrounds all dedicating themselves to a life of service in Christ. Their vocation stories are the highlight of the evening both informing and inspiring the assembled faithful.

The event is held under the auspices of the Serra Foundation of Canada and the Toronto Central Serra Club with the support of the other Serra Clubs in the Archdiocese of Toronto (including the Vocations Office and Office of Catholic Youth) and more recently, and very significantly, our Catholic educators. This year the event was witnessed by 810 high school students who attended during the day and the 1,579 individuals who were present for the evening dinner and Ordinandi speeches.

The Ordinandi Dinner is recognized 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 was our seventh 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 continue to be amazed by the results: 57 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 2019 Ordinandi and from Sr. Teresa Joseph, a consecrated nun of the Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate community followed by Cardinal Thomas Collins who addressed the 810 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, French Catholic 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 1,579 individuals who included 105 university-age young adults as a result of our Vocations Awareness program including those associated with Serra House and with Fr. Chris Lemieux, the Archdiocesan Director of Vocations. Also noteworthy is the attendance by university Chaplains who attended with young and potential vocation supporters as well as 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 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 our Auxiliary Bishops John Boissonneau, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Vincent Nguyen and Robert Kasun.

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 Event, while Catholic Cemeteries & Funeral Services – Archdiocese of Toronto provided much appreciated support for the evening event.

The Ordinandi Dinner continues to receive the support and encouragement of Serra International and for the past several years, we have been honoured to host the Presidents of Serra International who have travelled from far away places globally to witness first hand this well-known vocations phenomena in Serra and to offer congratulations to both the Ordinandi and their parents. This year, our very own Mario Biscardi, President of Serra International, thanked all stakeholders of the Ordinandi Dinner and Youth Event for their amazing support for this wonderful vocations awareness and appreciation event in our Archdiocese. Also this year, 3 Past Presidents of Serra International attended and were honoured: John Gennaro from Toronto, and Dan Grady and Dennis Leiber both from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Ordinandi Dinner is an event intended to raise awareness and not necessarily to raise funds. A modest surplus of approximately $31,000 was achieved and this was distributed to our two seminaries, Serra House and the Office of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Toronto.

The Ordinandi Dinner and Youth 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 Cardinal Collins, St. Augustine’s Seminary, Redemptoris Mater Seminary, Serra House, 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 3, 2020 when we will be hosting the 30th Annual Ordinandi Dinner under the continuing guidance and protection of our patron saint, St. Junipero Serra.

2019 Ordinandi Dinner