by Rodney Abasso
The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus' message. These words begin St. John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). To be a Christian, then, means that the Gospel of life is to be at the center of the heart of each individual as well as at the heart of the Church.
We seminarians take this call to protect life seriously. The Dinner for Life is an annual fundraising event that enables the seminarians to begin working in this type of ministry, inculcating within each of us the belief in the importance of life. The dinner allows us to give back to the organizations that are directly involved in assisting those women who do not have the ability to provide for their own children. These organizations offer a great deal of services for these women, whether they have financial, physical, or spiritual needs.
The Dinner for Life takes place around the same time each year, the first Friday in February. Because the first dinner, which began eight years ago, took place during Lent, the dinner has traditionally served fish and pasta. A committee of eight seminarians begins meeting in October to plan every detail of the event, including the raffle, registration, cooking, and even decorating. Additionally, on the day of the dinner, seminarians begin preparations as early as 10 AM. At the same time, a group of seminarians are in the kitchen preparing food, and another group of seminarians are in the gym setting up and organizing the raffle items.
The seminarians are involved in every aspect of the event, most notably in the kitchen cooking and in the gym serving the meals. Still, there are also a great number of seminarians behind the scenes assisting a variety of ways. This event, however, would not be possible without the assistance of the entire seminary community. Ovations Catering helps set up the gym and oversee the cooking and serving of the meal; the development office helps to facilitate the website and photographs the event; the various administrative assistants help in communicating information to the correct people; and many other members of the seminary community graciously donate desserts for the dinner.
We can truly say that without the help of each person, this event would not be as successful as it has been.
This year, the February 3 dinner had a record turnout, with nearly 450 people in attendance! The two pro-life organizations that we raised funds for are the Guadalupe Workers of Detroit (guadalupeworkers.org) and the Guadalupe Home of Beijing, China. Both organizations sent representatives to the dinner and spoke briefly, but poignantly, about the amazing work that they are able to accomplish through our generous donations.
Many new insights were gleaned from both speakers, most especially from the representative of Guadalupe Home of Beijing, which faces a vast number of challenges in its ministry. The keynote address was given by Dr. Alveda King, director of African-American outreach for the Priests for Life organization (priestsforlife.org) and niece of the great civil rights activist, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Her witness of pro-life work and her testimony of Jesus' work in her own life were especially moving.
Rodney AbassoRodney Abasso is a second-year theologian studying for the Chaldean Diocese of St. Thomas the Apostle.