Seminarian Education Event exceeds its fundraising goal

Father Mark Simpson, who was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Nashville in 2019, celebrated a Mass for the virtual Seminarian Education event on July 28 and shared how much the support of the Serra Club and people of the diocese meant to him when he was a seminarian. As of Aug. 26, organizers of the virtual event had exceeded their goal by raising nearly $280,000.

The 2020 Seminarian Education Mass, Event and Auction exceeded its goal for funds raised to help pay for the education of the Diocese of Nashville’s seminarians.

Organizers set a goal of $275,000 for the event, which was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic rather than the normal in-person dinner and auction.

The total for the money raised through the event will be closer to $280,000, although diocesan officials are still tallying all the donations, said Ashley Linville, director of development for the diocese.

“A lot of people were generous,” Linville said. “I think so many people have understood how important the seminarian program is and how important it is to have good solid priests going through formation. And people realize this is the future of our Church and it’s important to have good people in place.”

The Seminarian Education Event was held on Tuesday, July 28, and featured a Mass, an online auction, and videotaped appeals from Bishop J. Mark Spalding, Director of Vocations Father Austin Gilstrap, Father Mark Simpson who was ordained in 2019, Father Javier Suarez who was awaiting his priestly ordination at the time, and Lloyd and Elizabeth Crockett, who are long-time members of the Serra Club and have been instrumental in organizing the event.

The Serra Clubs of Williamson County and the Knights of Columbus again served as the organizing sponsors of the event.

Other sponsors included: Marina Manor East; Mary Queen of Angels Assisted Living Facility; Villa Maria Manor; St. Henry Property Development; Mr. and Mrs. John P. Donnelly; Catholic Community Investment and Loan Inc.; Wood Personnel Service; Taylor, Pigue, Marchetti and Blair Law Firm; Steier Group; Miracle Ford; Miracle Jeep/Eagle; Daniel Schachle Insurance, the general agent of Knights of Columbus insurance in Tennessee, Kentucky, and eastern Arkansas; Athens Distributing; Prenger Solutions; Father Ryan High School; Pope John Paul II High School; and WBOU Radio.

This fall, the diocese will have 24 seminarians in formation. The cost to educate the diocese’s seminarians is about $1.4 million a year, and the proceeds from the Seminarian Education Event help pay that cost.

In the past, the dinner has drawn a crowd of more than 600 from across the diocese. Organizers had to change their plans for the event after the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to hold a large in-person gathering.

But the need to fund the seminarians’ education was still there, so “we felt we could have an online program and share the need with so many who have been supporters,” Linville said.

“The donors are the ones who stepped up and truly made the difference,” he added. “And our seminarians were so appreciative.”

People can still support the diocese’s seminarian education program by making a donation to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries, which also provides a large piece of the funding, Linville said.

To make a donation to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal or to find more information visit shepherds.dioceseofnashville.com/ or contact Linville at 615-645-9768 or ashley.linville@dioceseofnashville.com or Anna Beth Godfrey at 615-783-0775 or annabeth.godfrey@dioceseofnashville.com.

Father Mark Simpson, who was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Nashville in 2019, celebrated a Mass for the virtual Seminarian Education event on July 28 and shared how much the support of the Serra Club and people of the diocese meant to him when he was a seminarian. As of Sept. 3, organizers of the virtual event had exceeded their goal by raising nearly $280,000.