By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — Nothing much that was ever conceived in the mind of the late Bob Miller stayed small for long.
For the fourth time, the event that has evolved into the annual Priests and Seminarians Appreciation Day has outgrown its venue and will move actually into two places instead of one on Sept. 19.
Matt Miller, who took over the event when his Dad passed away in August 2010, said this year’s golfing tournament and accompanying gin rummy and Texas hold ‘em card tournaments will be held at the PGA Tour quality Jack Nicklaus Golf Club at Lionsgate, 14225 Dearborn St., Overland Park, Kan.
The after party barbeque and awards presentation will take place at St. Michael the Archangel Parish Center, across the street from Lionsgate at 14251 Nall Ave.
This year’s event will feature a few new wrinkles.
“We’ll be having a ‘Sandbaggers Division’” in the golf tournament,” Miller said. “A priest can pick the best golfers in his parish, and they will compete for a $2,000 prize for the parish.”
It’s all free to priests and seminarians who will take a break from studies at Conception Seminary College. Non-clergy golfers can sign up for $250, card players for $50, with sponsorshops available from $100 to $10,000.
Miller said his father conceived of an idea of a golf tournament fundraiser for Conception in 1992 that would also give a free golf day to priests of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, with an after party at the Miller home.
As the years wore on, Bob saw that the event was not just a fundraiser, but a rare day when priests could get together and relax.
The event first moved out of the Miller home to More Hall at St. Thomas More Parish. It quickly outgrew that venue and shifted to Leawood South Country Club in Kansas, not only for more elbow room, but to encourage priests from the Kansas archdiocese to attend.
Matt Miller said the event has now outgrown the parking capacity around Leawood South and will now take advantage of the space at St. Michael.
He noted that Lionsgate will host a Nationwide PGA Tour event a few weeks before it hosts the priests on the course that golfing great Jack Nicklaus designed.
“Maybe we should leave the pro tees in and make ‘em hit from there,” Miller quipped.
At the awards ceremony, priests will be showered with practical gifts that ordinarily they would have to buy from their own pockets.
And that includes tailored black suits and overcoats for any priest who wants one.
But most of all, the event will be exactly what Bob Miller envisioned it would be — a time not only for priests to gather for fun, but to know their work is appreciated.
Matt Miller said both he and his brother Sean have split the work and legacy of their father. Matt has taken charge of Celebrating Our Religious Enthusiastically (CORE), the non-profit that puts on the annual Priests and Seminarians Appreciation Day.
Sean took over Homes from the Heart, a charity Bob established to build concrete homes in El Salvador following the 2001 earthquake.
Matt said that while he was spending August planning the event for priests, Sean was in El Salvador, building more homes.
“He wouldn’t die until Sean and I agreed to take over these things,” Matt Miller said.
The two Miller sons are also working on funding a permanent foundation for both CORE and Homes from the Heart so that their father’s dream will live forever.
“It’s still a dream and a prayer,” he said.
Donations to CORE can be sent to 373 W. 101st Terr., Kansas City, MO 64114. More information including registration and sponsorship opportunities for the annual Priests and Seminarians Appreciation Day is available online at www.CelebrateOurReligious.org.