Friday August 16 saw 400 guests attend the 21st annual Knights of the Southern Cross Archbishop’s Dinner for the Priests Support and Education Fund, held once again at Moonee Valley Racecourse.
The Dinner, held annually to raise funds for the education of Victoria’s seminarians, the further education of priests, and those seminarians and priests studying to become chaplains for the Australian Defence Force, has raised over $1.2 million over the last 20 Dinners. This year’s Dinner raised $66,000, an amount most welcomed by the Archbishop and the seminarians.
Prior to the Dinner, many attendees, including many members of the Knights of the Southern Cross Victoria, gathered for drinks and conversation, which gave them a chance to meet and talk with Archbishop Peter Comensoli. Following everyone’s entry into the Celebrity Room, the Dinner began with Master of Ceremonies Bryan Martin introducing KSC Victorian State Chairman and KSC Priests Support And Education Fund Chairman Carmine Miranda, who welcomed everyone in attendance.
Chairman Miranda then asked Archbishop Comensoli to address the audience, which he did with some humour at his own expense, before showing his appreciation for the support he received following the debate about the seal of the confessional over the past week. He also reflected on his first year as Archbishop of Melbourne, and despite the challenges, told everyone he was glad Melbourne was home. The Dinner began after he led Grace.
The Dinner gave the opportunity for Catholics across a wide range of ministries and fields a chance to socialise, many for the first time. Along with politicians, the laity and clergy, many of the beneficiaries of the Dinner were in attendance, the Staff and Students of Corpus Christi College Carlton, the Major Seminary for Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, led by Seminary Rector Fr Denis Stanley, who got to meet and know many of those in attendance. Bishop Les Tomlinson, soon to step down as Bishop of Sandhurst and as Chaplain of the International Alliance of Catholic Knights (of which the Knights of the Southern Cross are a charter member) was also in attendance.
The highlight of the night was the speech given by guest speaker Susan Alberti AC, who spoke on her life, her youth, her family, her Catholic education, her involvement in the building industry, and the tragic passing of her first husband Angelo Alberti. She also recounted with great emotion the passing of her only daughter Danielle, who died in her arms of complications from type 1 diabetes- she would cite this tragedy as the reason she set up the Susan Alberti Medical Research Foundation, and dedicate it to finding a cure for that disease. She talked about her own past diagnosis with cancer, and the support she received from her second husband Colin North during her illness and recovery. She also spoke on one of her greatest professional achievements, her involvement with the foundation of the AFL Women’s League, and seeing her beloved Western Bulldogs win the AFL Premiership in 2016 and the AFLW Premiership in 2018.
Following her speech, Ms Alberti was given a Vote of Thanks by former Federal Court Judge Richard Tracey, were he acknowledged the Knights of the Southern Cross for their selfless service, the Catholic Bishops and Clergy for their service, and their pledge to not abuse the trust placed with them within the seal of the confessional, and thanked Ms Alberti for her selfless service, her philanthropic work with medical research, and the foundation of the AFLW League.
The $66,000 raised on the night, presented to Archbishop Comensoli in the form of a cheque by KSCV State Chairman Miranda, came from the generosity of the sponsors, and from the prizes that were on offer in the silent auction, raffle, and open auction conducted by auctioneer Bryan Cain. The money raised will go to assist with the seminarians educational needs, such as text books and other items. A number of the seminarians in attendance will be ordained to the Diaconate and Priesthood within the coming weeks for the Archdiocese of Melbourne and the Diocese of Sale- they were duly acknowledged, before all the seminarians had their photo taken with the Archbishop. The Chairman on behalf of the KSC Priests Support and Education Fund Committee expressed his gratitude to all those sponsors, donors and attendees who made the night a success, and expressed his hope to see as many people there for next year’s Dinner.