Spend a weekend with Scott and Kimberly Hahn this November as he brings the 10th annual St. Paul Center Gala to the Renaissance Nashville Hotel in Nashville on Thursday, Nov. 2. That same weekend, Scott and Kimberly Hahn will also host an all-day retreat from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, at St. Matthew Church in Franklin.
It is one of many visits that Dr. Scott Hahn, Catholic speaker and author, has made to Nashville in recent years, including a presentation at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in August 2022.
“The people of Nashville may be the most Jesus-loving, church-going city in the United States. It’s great to drive down any highway on a Sunday morning and see so many churches with their parking lots full to overflowing,” Dr. Hahn said. “And the Catholic faith is integral to the city’s history and identity. Catholic institutions have been here through every crisis – the convents, the schools, the hospitals.”
It’s for this reason that Dr. Hahn thought Nashville was the perfect place for the 10th annual gala.
“The city seems to have a heart for what we’re doing at the St. Paul Center,” Dr. Hahn said. “We’re often invited here to speak, and every time we make new friends. We’ve been doing this for many years now, so that adds up to a lot of friends.”
Dr. Hahn founded the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology in 2001 and has remained its president ever since.
“Our goal from the beginning was to promote biblical literacy for all Catholics and biblical fluency for clergy and teachers,” Dr. Hahn explained of the center’s beginnings. “We wanted to make it so that the best Bible study in every town was at the Catholic church, and we wanted to make it so that the best preaching in town was from Catholic pulpits.
“Those are long-term goals, and we pursue them through many programs,” he continued. “Our books and video courses reach thousands every year. Additionally, our priest retreats are now the largest Catholic clergy retreats in the U.S., and we’re becoming an integral part of parish life.”
With that in mind, the gala is the biggest fundraiser of the year for support of the St. Paul Center because, as Dr. Hahn says, “Our donors make all that possible.”
“After more than a decade of history behind us [since St. Paul Center’s founding], certain things became clear to us. First, we were here to stay. We had a past for proof and a sure sense of where we needed to go,” Dr. Hahn explained. “Second, we had gathered a community of good people around us by way of our conferences, pilgrimages, publications, and speaking events.
“We wanted to bring that community together and celebrate what God was doing through our apostolate and look forward to the great wonders ahead.”
The St. Paul Center Gala will begin at 5 p.m. with a Mass and will be followed by a cocktail reception at 6 p.m., a dinner and program at 7 p.m., and a post-event reception at 9 p.m.
The program will include the presentation of two awards – The Good Shepherd Award and the H. Lyman Stebbins Award.
“The Good Shepherd Award is bestowed in recognition of the edifying work and witness of an exemplary Church leader, acknowledging outstanding courage and Christ-like willingness to lay down one’s life for one’s sheep,” according to the gala website. The award will be presented to Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke “for his extraordinary work in building up the Church.”
“Cardinal Burke has been a close friend for many years, and he’s always good company,” Dr. Hahn said. “He has been a great champion of our work as we help form priests for preaching and help form lay people for apostolate. It was time we thanked him in a big way.”
The H. Lyman Stebbins Award will be given posthumously to Charles Gusmano.
“Charlie’s love for the Catholic Church and especially priests and seminarians motivated his longtime support and involvement with the St. Paul Center. He served on the Center’s advisory council from its inception,” according to the gala website. “Charlie and Karmita Gusmano have been integral to the expansion of the Center, and thanks to their encouragement and support, the St. Paul Center was able to successfully construct a new headquarters pivotal to its future growth and mission. Like Charlie, Lyman Stebbins passionately supported and defended the Church and especially clergy.”
Gusmano passed away in late 2022.
“Charlie was a heroic lay apostle who supported many good initiatives in the Catholic Church, including the St. Paul Center,” Dr. Hahn said. “He died, quite young, last year. He and his family have been a great encouragement to us. We want to recognize the impact he’s had on us and on the Church in this country.”
The cost for the St. Paul Center Gala is $300 per person or $3,000 for a table for 10.
Sponsorship opportunities are also available from $1,000 to $25,000, with various perks included in the sponsorship price.
Overnight room reservations are available at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel for a group rate of $298. Reservations must be made by Monday, Oct. 2.
To purchase tickets and sponsorships and for more information, visit stpaulcenter.com/gala2023/.
The community of the diocese will have an opportunity to hear more from Dr. Hahn and his wife, Kimberly, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, at St. Matthew.
The theme of the retreat is “The Communion of Saints: Striving for Holiness in Troubled Times” and will look deeply to the sacraments and scripture as sources of strength and encouragement.
Cost for the event is $40 per person. For more information about the retreat, email Martin Strobel, director of communications and stewardship, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No matter whether Nashvillians come to one event or both, Dr. Hahn said his hope for them is always the same.
“When I was a teenager, my life was transformed by my encounter with Jesus Christ in the Bible,” Dr. Hahn said. “When in adulthood, I became a Catholic, and I came to know lasting joy and communion through the sacraments that Jesus established and entrusted to His Church. I want everyone to have a chance to share these experiences.”