Archbishop Alexander Sample and members of the Seminary Tea Committee gather in May for a celebratory Mass. Plans call for an in-person tea in April 2022. (Courtesy Seminary Tea Committee)
Archbishop Alexander Sample and members of the Seminary Tea Committee gather in May for a celebratory Mass. Plans call for an in-person tea in April 2022. (Courtesy Seminary Tea Committee)
The Seminary Tea Committee, a venerable organization of Oregon Catholic philanthropists, has presented Archbishop Alexander Sample with $44,000 to educate seminarians in formation for the Archdiocese of Portland.

An annual tea party has been held since 1932 to raise funds for future priests in western Oregon. Bishops attend in formal attire and greet attendees, who often wear their best hats. Everyone sips tea, chats and nibbles from tables laden with hors d‘oeuvres and sweets.

The pandemic forced the last few events online, but plans call for an in-person tea April 27, 2022, at the Portland Golf Club.

In May, more than two dozen members of the committee gathered with Archbishop Alexander Sample for a Mass at St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

The Seminary Tea is a tradition to be proud of, the archbishop said, smiling and pretending to hold a cup and saucer as he greeted the women.

“Some of the seminarians you have helped over the years are now your pastors,” Archbishop Sample said. “We are ordained for you.”

One seminarian, Coulter McIntyre, was master of ceremonies for the Mass. After liturgy, he met Carol McMenamin, a Seminary Tea Committee member who has been supporting him and writing to him. The two beamed at each other.

Toni Fisher of Holy Redeemer Parish in North Portland, chairwoman of the 2020–21 Seminary Tea Committee, presented the check to the archbishop after Mass. Part of the $44,000 was an $8,000 donation from the Dooney Family Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation.

“This means more than I can say, as much on a spiritual level as on a financial level,” the archbishop said in response. “Somehow, you have continued your great tradition and show your love and support for the seminarians. That means just as much as the dollar amount. You are supporting the future of our church. You have become true models of Christian service.”

Judy Winczewski, Gail Wilhelms and Mary Beth O'Donnell organized the Mass.