This evening I attended Toronto’s St. Augustine Seminary Ordinandi Dinner sponsored by Serra International. This annual event is an opportunity to celebrate with the men at St. Augustine’s who are to be ordained priests in the Spring for the Archdiocese of Toronto and other local churches whose seminarians study in Toronto. The evening also recognizes the vocations of religious men and women, especially those making final vows during the year.
This particular Ordinandi Dinner was special for me because the seminarians we honoured were part of the first class of my Pastoral Counselling course at the seminary. These were my first students. When I was asked to teach the course I was quite nervous. I didn’t know what or how I was going to approach the course. I resolved to share myself, my experience and my knowledge as truthfully and practically as I could. I spoke and taught as a brother to brothers.
These men with whom I journeyed for a semester really impressed me and gave me a lot of hope for the future of the Church. During the course of our time together I found them engaged, interested, prayerful, and enthusiastic in their response to the Lord’s call. Being with them was like a breathe of fresh air. They are real guys, with real problems and challenges but also with real grace and love in their hearts. I know that they will be of great benefit to the people of God as ministers of Christ. Tonight, they spoke to us and shared their stories… and how much the prayer, example and encouragement of family or friends made a difference in their ability to hear and respond to God’s call.
Please pray for them and for all women and men who serve the Church as religious sisters, brothers, deacons, priests and lay ministers. Oh, and let’s not forget our bishops too! Archbishop Tom Collins was there tonight and inspired the crowd with his grace (no pun intended), humour and deep caring for vocations and for the Church of Toronto.