By BOBBIE GENOVESE
For The Catholic Week
DOTHAN — Once again St. Columba Parish in Dothan opened its doors and its hearts to honor the 21 young men who are studying for the priesthood from the Archdiocese of Mobile.
What has come to be known as the “Seminarian-Palooza Weekend” began Friday, July 12 with a deluxe dinner presented by the Knights of Columbus Council 6727 in the newly refurbished parish hall. Parishioners formed a capacity crowd to welcome Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi, Vocations Director Fr. Victor Ingalls, keynote speaker Fr. Zachary Greenwell — pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Enterprise — and 15 of the seminarians.
Every year the highlight of the evening is the introduction of the seminarians. This year they were asked to tell “something interesting or unusual” about themselves. Tales ranged from a former UPS driver who heard God’s call and exchanged his former brown uniform for his new black garb to the second-year students, who dared each other to swim a swollen river at St. Joseph Seminary in Louisiana and lived to tell about it.
Following their inspiring and often hilarious presentations, the men were given a check from the Knights of Columbus to help pay for their personal expenses in the coming year.
Housing accommodations were provided by St. Columba parishioners and on Saturday the seminarians joined the youth of the Wiregrass area parishes in a soccer tournament at Westgate Park. On Sunday, the young men participated in the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Columba, which was followed by prayer for vocations and Benediction.
Grand Knight Juan Cepero served as host for the evening. Jeff Sandoz acted as master of ceremonies and Msgr. Patrick Gallagher, pastor of St. Columba, gave the invocation. Also in attendance from St. Columba were Rev. Jose Paillacho and Deacon Joe Mueller.
Chefs Bernardo DeFaria and Don Gardino provided a gourmet dining experience. Cindy DeFaria and Vicki Gardino directed the food service and Ashley Johnson led the teens from the parish Youth Group in beverage service and clean-up. Ed LaCour provided piano selections during the social hour and following dinner.
By BOBBIE GENOVESE