Catholic Vancouver Nov. 9, 2017

Archbishop's Dinner raises funds for education of priests

By Agnieszka Ruck

Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, gives a "State of the Archdiocese" address at the sixth annual Archbishop's Dinner Nov. 1. (Photos by Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)

VANCOUVER—When Father Bryan Duggan was working full time as the archdiocesan vocations director, he noticed many young people were in need of strong supports.

“There is so much woundedness in our culture and so many challenges young people face,” such as broken families and addictions, said the Vancouver-area priest.

“There’s need for psychological expertise as part of that journey in discerning God’s will.”

So, when Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, asked him to consider studying psychology, it seemed like a natural step. Father Duggan is now working on a doctorate on the subject from the Divine Mercy University near Washington, D.C.

“To be able to offer the tools of psychology, and the wisdom of the Church and the truths of Scripture is the best possible way to help somebody,” he said. “It’s the best of both worlds!”

Father Duggan shared these thoughts in a video screened at the sixth annual Archbishop’s Dinner, the archdiocese’s biggest fundraiser of the year. It usually sells out at around 900 tickets and benefits a different local cause each year.

In 2017, Archbishop Miller determined all proceeds would go toward furthering education for priests.

Father Bryan Duggan seen in a video at the Archbishop's Dinner.

“I’m really convinced of the urgent need to foster for our priests a strong post-seminary and professional development program,” he said during the banquet held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Nov. 1.

“The world in which they preach and serve is increasingly educated and needs the guidance of clergy who are ready to encourage, to enlighten, to walk beside the faithful in their journey with their increasing number of often difficult and tough questions.”

There are currently four archdiocesan priests enrolled in international post-seminary education: Father Duggan, Father Nicholas Meisl, Father Paul Goo, and Father Pablo Santa Maria Watson.

“A lot of people have questions that are sometimes quite complicated,” said Father Meisl, also featured in the video.

“The Church has this great richness of hundreds of years of reflection on the Scriptures,” something he hopes to soak in while getting his degree in Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.

“I won’t, by far, have all the answers, but I can come back and try to use what I learned in teaching people formally or informally and help them learn more about God’s Word and follow Jesus better.”

Meanwhile, Father Goo, previously the assistant pastor at Christ the Redeemer, is studying Spiritual Theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, and Father Watson, who served at Holy Rosary Cathedral, is pursuing a degree in canon law from the Navarre University in Pamplona, Spain.

“It’s like having four kids in graduate school at the same time,” joked Archbishop Miller.

Seminarians volunteer at the fundraising dinner Nov. 1.

Since his appointment as a bishop in 2009, six priests have completed graduate studies. Now, having four young priests in graduate studies at once is setting a new record. Event organizers hoped to raise $400,000 for future post-seminary training for local priests.

Archbishop Miller also used the dinner as a chance to give his annual “state of the archdiocese address.”

Among the many statistics he highlighted:

  • In the last year more than 16,000 students were enrolled in the archdiocese’s 50 elementary and secondary schools.
  • Three men were ordained priests and five were ordained permanent deacons (with another two deacons to be ordained before the end of the year). Currently, there are 22 seminarians enrolled at the Seminary of Christ the King and Redemptoris Mater.
  • Last year, The Door is Open served 100,000 meals to the poor in the Downtown Eastside while 537 refugees landed in Canada thanks to archdiocesan sponsorships.
  • The annual appeal, Project Advance, raised $7.7 million in 2016, setting a new record.
  • A new parish, St. Agnes Kim, was erected this year, and there are plans under way to build a new Catholic secondary school, rebuild St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary, rebuild St. Paul’s church, and a major upgrade of Holy Rosary Cathedral and its facilities.

His speech, complete with more recent statistics and information about future archdiocesan initiatives, can be read here.

Religious sisters attending the fundraising event.
Archbishop Miller greets guests.
Members of the newly erected St. Agnes Kim Quasi-Parish at the Archbishop's Dinner.