By Jill Ragar Esfeld
KANSAS CITY — “I am delighted with the number,” said Kansas City in Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann of this year’s seminarians to the hundreds of supporters gathered at the annual Support Our Seminarians benefit dinner and auction Jan. 28.
“But even more delighted with the men.
“They are the fruit of your prayers.
The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas currently has 30 seminarians and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has 25.
More than 700 guests attend the 18th annual Support our Seminarians (S.O.S.) benefit dinner and auction, breaking last year’s record crowd.
The event, held at the Marriot Allis Plaza Hotel in Kansas City, Mo., benefits seminarians from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. It also supports Conception Seminary College.
The evening began with a social hour during which guests toured the Marketplace, a silent auction with close to 200 items.
KMBC-TV anchor Larry Moore was master of ceremonies, as he has been every year since he and his wife spearheaded the first S.O.S Benefit.
Before dinner, Abbot Gregory Polan of Conception Abbey led a hymn, and then Mike Debus, live art performance painter, delighted the dinner crowd by turning a huge blank canvas into the face of Christ.
Decorating each table was a centerpiece crucifix hand-crafted by Bob Cunningham and offered for sale to benefit Conception Seminary College.
After dinner, Bishop Robert Finn thanked all those who work to support the formation of men to the priesthood. He especially thanked S.O.S. organizer Martha Hodes, who “does such a wonderful job year after year.”
Archbishop Joseph Naumann followed, assuring the audience that as long as the Catholic Church is ordaining dedicated priests, “the church will prosper.”
The archbishop then called attention to the parents of seminarians and thanked them.
“What a great gift they give to the church, handing down their faith to their sons,” he said.
Abbot Gregory Polan then led an enthusiastic round of applause for all the seminarians, and introduced Father Samuel Russell, president-rector of Conception Seminary College.
As the Nigro Brothers prepared to call the live auction, Moore thanked all those who helped make S.O.S. a success, in particular, chairs Pat and Louise Meyers and Steve and Sharon Perry.
Debus’s live painting was the first item on the auction block, followed by trips, dinners, and even an opportunity to bid on three energetic seminarians to do house chores for one day.
Donations from the night have not yet been finalized, but preliminary numbers look promising.
Martha Hodes, the event’s organizer, said the auction raised more than $73,000 and believed the totals would outshine the 2010 event, which cleared $145,473.
Altogether, from 1994 through 2010, the SOS event has raised $2,710,427 in support of the seminarians.
A version of this story originally appeared in The Leaven.