Seminarian Education Dinner exceeds goal

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Bishop J. Mark Spalding accepts a donation of $245,000 from Don Stacy, past president of the Serra Club of Williamson County, representing the proceeds from the 2022 Seminarian Education Dinner and Auction. The funds will be use to help pay for the education of the diocese’s seminarians. The event is organized by the Serra Clubs of Williamson County and Nashville and the Tennessee Knights of Columbus. Photo by Andy Telli

The proceeds from the 2022 Seminarian Education Dinner and Auction have surpassed the $225,000 goal for the event, held in May at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville.

“Thanks to the generosity of so many, we raised just over $245,000,” said Ashley Linville, diocesan director of the Office of Stewardship and Development.

The money will help pay for the education of the Diocese of Nashville’s seminarians , which costs about $75,000 per year per man.

“Every dollar is needed and put toward our seminarians’ education and formation,” Linville said in a letter thanking donors.

This year’s event was the first in three years that was held in-person. 

“For those who attended the event, your presence made the evening special,” Linville wrote. “To see the room full of people in a standing ovation for our seminarians was truly touching. Thank you for being a part of this important evening.”

“Getting back to a live event is just so important,” said Don Stacy, the immediate past president of the Serra Club of Williamson County.

Having an in-person event gives people an opportunity to meet and get to know the seminarians, said Stacy, a parishioner at St. Philip Church in Franklin. “Meeting the seminarians humanizes them.”

“It was powerful to see everyone come together for the seminarians,” said Jessica Gravagna, special events coordinator for the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development, who helped organize the dinner and auction.

People can still make a donation to the Seminarian Education Fund by visiting

Linville also expressed thanks for donors who were unable to attend the event but still contributed to the event’s sponsors.

“For our sponsors, special thanks to your company, or you as an individual, for making the decision to support our event and seminarians in this very special way,” Linville wrote in his letter. “We encourage everyone to support our generous sponsors.” 

To find a list of sponsors, visit

“People are so generous,” Gravagna added. “From Clarksville to Loretto, everyone pitched in.”

The Serra Clubs of Williamson County and Nashville and the Tennessee Knights of Columbus help organize the event each year. The Serra Clubs, which are dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life, started the event in 2010. 

In its first year, the dinner and auction raised about $6,000, Stacy noted. In the years since, the event has grown into one of the diocese’s largest fund-raising events. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the dinner and auction brought in as much as $325,000.

Stacy, representing the organizers, made a formal presentation of the proceeds to Bishop J. Mark Spalding on Thursday, June 30.

The event alternates each year between Our Lady of the Lake and Holy Family Church in Brentwood. Next year’s dinner and auction will be held at Holy Family.

Another source of funding for the seminarians’ education and formation is the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries. Anyone interested in supporting seminarian education can still help by donating to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, Linville said.

For more information about the appeal, visit

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