Pictured from left to right in a screenshot are the seven Ordinandi from St. Augustine’s Seminary and Redemptoris Matis Seminary who will be odained to the priesthood later this year: Walter Flynn, Arthur Lee, Michel Quenneville, Andrew Taylor, Patrick Salah, Christian Lindenbach and Kevin Adriano.

COVID won’t stop annual Ordinandi Dinner in Toronto

  • February 28, 2021

The annual Ordinandi Dinner last year went off without a hitch, celebrated just before COVID put Canada and the world in lockdown. But there was no such luck for this year’s event.

So instead of an in-person celebration of the 2021 Ordinandi class from St. Augustine’s Seminary and Redemptoris Mater Seminary that would normally draw upwards of 2,000 people to the Pearson Convention Centre in Brampton, Ont., this year’s event will, like so many others, go virtual.

The 31st Ordinandi Dinner will be staged March 2 in a live-streaming format on YouTube at 7 p.m. ET. Seven transitional deacons — Walter Flynn (Charlottetown), Arthur Lee (Toronto), Michel Quenneville (Kingston), Andrew Taylor (Toronto), Patrick Salah (Halifax-Yarmouth), Christian Lindenbach (Regina) and Kevin Adriano (Toronto) — will share their vocation stories this year.

Jerry Hayes, the chairperson for the event, is embracing the opportunity to oversee this — hopefully — one-year-only online experiment.

“When is this pandemic going to be over?” asked Hayes with a chuckle. “We are certainly hoping with everything we undertake that we can return to normal life again. But we’re delighted and happy to get to hold the event this year.”

Once again, the Serra Foundation of Canada — specifically the six Serra Clubs within the Archdiocese of Toronto — is planning the event.

Serra Club is a lay organization that nurtures and promotes vocations to the priesthood. The organization, formed in 1935, adopted missionary St. Junipero Serra as its patron and has more than 1,100 clubs in 46 countries.

"People come away realizing these men are just like themselves and their own family members."

- Jerry Hayes

Fr. Matthew McCarthy, the director of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Vocations, will interview each of the seven transitional deacons who will be ordained later this year about their calling to the priesthood, their years as seminarians and what lies ahead in their respective journeys.

Hayes continues to be inspired each year when he hears feedback from attendees about how they experience a meaningful connection with the Ordinandi after they chronicle their journey.

“Many people come away with the realization that these men moving on towards ordination had lifestyles that are very similar with their own. They had uncertainty at the beginning, and they weren’t always sure if God was calling them or not,” he said.

“Sometimes we get the idea that someone who is about to be ordained is some saintly individual who appears to almost come from another era all together. People come away realizing these men are just like themselves and their own family members.”

Revealing testimony about the ups and downs of figuring out a path has traditionally produced a connection between the soon-to-be-priests and a number of Ontario Catholic high school students who attend the Ordinandi Youth Event each year. The 2021 iteration — the eighth annual — will also be held this year as a YouTube presentation on March 2, but at 10 a.m. ET.

Last year’s event was cancelled due to labour unrest in Ontario schools in the weeks leading up to the dinner. As many as 800 youth have attended the event in previous years.

Anne-Brisebois Abbott, the youth event co-ordinator, wrote in a release that the youth event forges a “sense of belonging and fellowship and spiritual strength” and it presents an opportunity to be “invigorated in our faith life and knitted together in prayer and witnessing.”

To view both the Ordinandi Dinner and the youth event free of charge, visit youtube.com/archtoronto.

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