Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.
The virtual Seminary Ball, this year’s slightly different approach to the annual gala, premiered Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. Participants and sponsors streamed it online from their homes through the Diocese of Covington website, accompanied by gift boxes containing keepsakes such as wine glasses, T-shirts, icons, coasters and medals of St. Charles Borromeo.
The annual event, last year drawing over 560 people, usually takes place at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center. This year, due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it was held virtually with access granted to those who purchased advance tickets. Though the total number of registrants was lower than in past years, the total gross amount raised was $81,585 — significantly more than in the past. All funds go to the Seminarian Education Fund, which provides the support necessary for the formation of the Diocese of Covington’s eleven seminarians.
The video featured a message from Bishop Roger Foys, accompanied by footage of the Rite of Ordination. Bishop Foys said, “I am here to thank all of you for your support … The priesthood, as you know, is essential. It is the life of the Church, the life of our diocese. … I ask you to continue your prayers for them as they discern God’s will in their life. Now, more than ever, the Church is need of good priests, holy priests, well-formed and well-educated priests. The generosity of the people in our diocese enables us to provide priests who are indeed good and holy, well-educated and well-formed.”
Viewers also saw personal messages from each of the seminarians about their experience receiving the call to and preparing for the priesthood, and a heartfelt thank you for the monetary and spiritual support.
Deacon Joseph Rielage, in his final year at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, expressed a special message as well. “Thank you so much to the people of the Diocese of Covington on behalf of myself and the seminarians,” he said. “This coming spring, I will be ordained a priest of the Diocese of Covington, and that brings so much joy and gladness to my heart, so that I can be a shepherd. I can help guard and protect you, the people of the Diocese of Covington, and to walk along your journeys with you, the good times and the bad, and to bring Christ to you and to let you know that Christ is with you at all times.”
In the week before the ball, members of the Office of Stewardship and Mission hand-delivered gift boxes to registrants. Mike Murray, director, said this was important so that guests could use their wine glasses to participate in a toast led by Father Daniel Schomaker, vicar general and assistant director of seminarians, ending the Ball.
Mr. Murray said he’s already heard from many people about how much they enjoyed the event. “I would say the video was incredibly well-received,” he said. “People really enjoyed viewing the video on Sunday night, and I had a lot of strong compliments; it was a very well-drafted and well-received video about our seminarians.”
About the virtual event, Bishop Foys said, “I am so grateful to everyone who made the Virtual Seminary Ball such a positive experience. During these difficult days of COVID-19 we need uplifting events and experiences to remind us that all is not lost and that this pandemic will indeed pass. In the meantime, we do what is necessary on our part to stay healthy and safe and to ensure the same for all those around us. We’ve had to learn to do things differently but this does not dampen our enthusiasm for those things in life that are really important and that really matter.”