Father Matt Williams of the St. John the Baptist-St. Joseph Collaborative in Quincy poses with a youth group from his parish in a scene from the virtual 2021 Celebration of the Priesthood, which will be presented online and on Catholic TV at 7 p.m. on Sept. 21. Pilot photo/courtesy Clergy Trust
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BRAINTREE -- Once again this year, the people of the Archdiocese of Boston are being invited to come together in September to honor and support the priests of the archdiocese at the 13th annual Celebration of the Priesthood.
This annual event honoring the work of diocesan priests is the biggest single fundraiser for Clergy Trust, the lay-led trust that supports the health and well-being of the archdiocese's active and senior priests in good standing. For the second time in its history, this year's Celebration of the Priesthood will be held in a virtual format on Sept. 21.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the Celebration of the Priesthood traditionally took place at the Seaport World Trade Center, drawing about 1,500 guests each year for a gala dinner and speaking program. Last year was the first time the celebration was held virtually, with video programming that highlighted the work of the clergy during the difficult challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision to hold the event virtually once again, made out of concern for the Delta variant of the coronavirus, has the benefit of making it available to more people. Last year, the celebration received over 5,000 unique views, according to Michael Scannell, the executive director of Clergy Trust.
"While not being the same, it does give you the ability to reach a broader audience," he said Sept. 9. He succeeded Joe D'Arrigo as executive director of Clergy Trust in January 2021, having previously worked at State Street Corporation for over 30 years.
The theme of this year's Celebration of the Priesthood is "Opening Doors to Stronger Communities."
Besides serving as a fundraiser, the event is an opportunity to "showcase work that individuals may not always see related to priests and how they serve their ministry," Scannell said.
"Many folks think of priests serving strictly in a parish setting. But I think what it does is it highlights the work of our priests across the broader communities," Scannell said.
It will also highlight the work of Clergy Trust and explain the importance of their programs. These include the Intentional Living Program, which provides priests with preventative health and wellness programs; the Dedicated Care Team, which offers priests one-on-one support to manage health concerns and navigate the healthcare system; and Regina Cleri, which is home to over 50 senior priests.
Scannell said they hope to exceed last year's fundraising goal of $1.5 million, an amount that they feel is an "aggressive but appropriate goal given the year it's been."
"For more than a decade, this event has brought together Catholics, business leaders, and many others from across greater Boston that have come together to make this event such a success. And so, we felt it was important to have a pretty lofty goal," he said.
Tom and Tricia O'Brien are cochairing the Celebration of the Priesthood this year. The program will feature an appearance from Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley as well as media personalities Alice Cook and Scott Wahle.
Scannell said the evening will tell the stories of different paths taken by members of the Clergy Trust team and the diocesan priesthood.
"While many of our clergy members may have come to the priesthood through different paths, they're all brought together in serving one mission," he said.
The 2021 Celebration of the Priesthood will take place at 7 p.m. on Sept. 21. Complimentary registration is available at ClergyTrust.org/celebration. The program will also be broadcast through YouTube and on the CatholicTV Network, available on local cable providers and at CatholicTVLIVE.com.