Annual dinner at Sacred Heart Major Seminary supports sidewalk counseling, pro-life ministry of Guadalupe Workers
DETROIT — Friends of Sacred Heart Major Seminary gathered Feb. 9 for an evening of prayer, fellowship and reflection highlighted by a dinner served by the seminarians themselves.
The 14th annual Dinner for Life drew upon the event’s history, with Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton celebrating Mass — Bishop Monforton also celebrated the event’s first Mass back in 2006 when he was the seminary’s rector.
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The beneficiaries of the dinner, Guadalupe Workers, were also a call back to the first Dinner for Life. The South Lyon-based sidewalk counseling ministry was the beneficiary of the first Dinner for Life, explained Jim Musgrave, a second-year theology seminarian for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
“We kept in contact with them over all these years,” Musgrave told Detroit Catholic. “They are a really small but awesome, mighty, powerful group of pro-life workers who are out sidewalks counseling (mothers considering abortion). They really believe they are counseling not just statistics and numbers, but they are counseling people, and they want to love them, and bring Jesus Christ to them.”
An estimated 300 people attended the dinner, which is organized entirely by the seminarians, from the reading selections at Mass to cooking and serving the food and selecting the beneficiary.
“This really is a community effort,” Musgrave said. “All of us do this very selflessly. We don’t get anything tangible out of this other than to serve. We’re here to serve the people of God, and this is great opportunity for us to be able to come and do that and show everyone how great this place is and how much we really do believe in the Gospel of Life.”
Beyond raising money for Guadalupe Workers, Musgrave said the dinner plays an important part in the seminarians' priestly formation, teaching skills a man will need in order to be a pastor who promotes life.
“It’s really an opportunity for us to come together to draw on each other’s gifts and talents," Musgrave said. "Some of us are really good administratively, some of us are really good with hospitality, some of us are good at planning the liturgy. Nights like tonight allow us to give a platform to the people who are out there on the front lines.”
Bishop Monforton recalled how it was seminarians who started the Dinner for Life on their own initiative as a way to show that the future of the priesthood is committed to building a culture of life.
“We always encourage our seminarians to take initiative, our future priests. And that’s how it began," Bishop Monforton said. "I don’t recall having a crowd this large at the beginning, (but) it warms by heart.”
The Mass readings included excerpts from Maccabees, one of John's epistles and the Gospel of John, in which the evangelist wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
St. John’s opening to his Gospel asserts how God, the author of life, came down to earth as a man to save His creation from death and destruction, Bishop Monforton said, adding events like the Dinner for Life are a testimony to the Gospel.
“What we are doing here, my brothers and sisters, (is) we are welcoming the light, are we not?” Bishop Monforton said. “We are here to illuminate our minds, our hearts, our souls.
"In the second reading, St. John provides the insight that God offered His life for us. He is inviting us to the compassion of Christ," Bishop Monforton said. "Discipleship takes work to bear witness to the truth, to the light.”
Edmund Miller, a teacher at Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor and founder of Guadalupe Workers, addressed the dinner’s attendees, thanking them for their generosity.
Guadalupe Workers began 22 years ago after Miller took a group of eighth-grade students out to an abortion clinic in Ann Arbor and offered sidewalk counseling.
"We were at the clinic until it closed, counseling people, helping them, loving them," Miller recalled. "For many of the women that went into that clinic, we were the first ones to tell them they were loved.
“I have seen and heard the struggles of women seeking abortion,” Miller continued. “I’ve seen the utter disgrace to masculinity that abortion provides, the brokenness of fathers. One of the most effective things you can do for somebody — more than the diapers, the baby supplies, the rent assistance — is to love somebody."
Miller said pro-life ministries such as Guadalupe Workers depend on the generosity of donors to provide many things, but the most fundamental need is free to provide.
“Raising money for pro-life causes are good, they are important,” Miller said. “But love another person and you will move their world. You will give them hope. Not hope in the sense of some potential good off in the future, but hope in the here and now, because the Kingdom of God is at hand, as I tell my students. It’s here now. So go and proclaim it.”
Pro-life Sacred Heart Major Seminary