Claire Kenney
Freelance Writer
January 9, 2024 // Diocese

Andrew Dinners Aim to Promote Priestly Discernment Among Young Men

Claire Kenney
Freelance Writer

Each year, the Vocations Office of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend hosts two dinners – one in South Bend and one in Fort Wayne – to help offer resources and support for young men who are discerning a call to the priesthood. These annual events, called Andrew Dinners, have a long history both nationally and locally. 

“The Andrew Dinner opens the door of discernment for young men considering a vocation,” said Father Daniel Niezer, Diocesan Promoter of Priestly Vocations. 

The dinner, which cultivates a casual and relaxed atmosphere to promote a comfortable environment for discernment, provides the opportunity for the men in attendance to speak with current seminarians and priests about the unique life the priesthood offers.

Photos by Joshua Schipper
Above, Seminarian Sam Martinez talks to an attendee at the Andrew Dinner at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne on Thursday, January 4. At left, Father Daniel Niezer, Diocesan Promoter of Priestly Vocations, prays during a Holy Hour at St. Vincent de Paul prior to the Andrew Dinner.

“It is a great environment to both enjoy building new relationships as well as asking any questions about these topics,” Father Niezer told Today’s Catholic.

This discernment opportunity is named after St. Andrew to underscore the importance of God’s calling – as St. Andrew is known as “the First Apostle.”

Father Niezer knows firsthand how impactful attending an Andrew Dinner can be to the discernment process, as he attended one such event during his discernment period. 

“I remember attending an Andrew Dinner at my home parish, St. Elizabeth in Fort Wayne, when I was in high school,” he said.

This year, a Holy Hour preceded the dinners, which took place at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne on Thursday, January 4, and at St. Pius X in Granger on Friday, January 5. 

“We had a very successful two evenings for these Andrew Dinners,” Father Niezer said. “I focused on equipping the young men with basic discernment tools centered around the four dimensions of seminary formation: the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral dimensions.”

Seminarian Sam Martinez was in attendance and told Today’s Catholic he was highly impressed with both dinner events. 

“What a great two evenings praying and joining in community with stellar young men from around the diocese,” said Martinez, a son of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Fort Wayne, who is studying at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland. “From adoration to witnesses and plain encouragement, I pray we can give the People of God shepherds after His own heart.”

Discerning the priesthood can be overwhelming and filled with questions. The tradition of the Andrew Dinner helps facilitate faith in considering one’s vocation. Each Andrew Dinner hosted by the diocese strives to do the same.

“It is our hope that those who attend the Andrew Dinner will not only have their questions answered but will leave motivated to discern their vocation by living out their faith with great courage and zeal,” Father Niezer explained. 

And in the end, it is God’s will that these dinners seek to facilitate.

“Ultimately, we hope that God’s will be done in the hearts of our young people discerning a vocation,” Father Niezer said. “By providing events like the Andrew Dinners, we are offering a time and a place to think and pray more specifically about a vocation to the priesthood.” 

To learn more about vocations within the diocese, visit

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.