Chivalry Reborn: Young Catholic Men Host ‘Beloved Dinner’ to Honor Women
A memorable evening of respect, service and love in Silicon Valley
So many politicians, judges and pop-culture icons seem to be struggling to answer the question: What is a woman? Google searches, Twitter trends and even documentaries have been made on the subject.
On March 25, in Santa Clara, more than 30 young adult men hosted a formal event called “The Beloved Dinner” to honor women in their Catholic community. This event was not sponsored by any church or organization — rather, it was single-handedly put on by laymen who enlisted the support of their friends to create a truly memorable night to honor women. I was fortunate enough to be one of the ladies invited to attend the dinner.
This event was on par with a wedding reception. From the wax-sealed invitations mailed far in advance, to taking into account our dietary preferences, and the raffle with amazing Catholic prizes — these men went above and beyond. While attending the dinner, I became inspired to write about this experience because, throughout my 10 years of involvement in various young adult groups (both Catholic and Protestant), I have never seen anything done quite like this — especially by men with no formal training in event planning. In the month leading up to the dinner, Catholic women were all abuzz about what they were going to wear to the formal event. It truly felt as though we were invited to a Catholic ball!
Many women speculated that this dinner was held in March due to International Women’s Day, but when I asked Josh Harmon, 24, co-creator of Beloved, he said, “No, it was because of the feast of the Annunciation being in March.”
Each table had a Marian theme with an icon of our Blessed Mother. Each setting included a name card for the woman who would sit there. I was touched by this simple gesture because it reminded me of how our Lord calls us each by name. He knows us intimately as individuals — not as a monolith, grouped by gender, age, race or status.
These men not only fed our bellies but also our hearts and minds. Josh Jeremiah, 26, gave an incredible speech, explaining the reason for the event. He summarized what Pope John Paul II called the “feminine genius,” St. Thomas Aquinas on love and willing the other’s good, and Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen on women being the “pinnacle of creation.”
Jeremiah said, “To will the good of the other for the sake of the other also means considering how the other person wants to receive love. Women have an intuition, a sense, a ‘feminine genius’ … that equips them with a special sensitivity to know not just that we ought to love people but how we ought to love people.”
Conversation With Josh Harmon
I sat down with Josh Harmon to uncover the inspiration and learn more about the planning for the formal dinner.
When did you get the idea for the Beloved Dinner?
Harmon: Joshua Jeremiah had participated in this kind of dinner while at UC Santa Barbara and a woman in our community suggested to Ryan the idea to host this kind of dinner here in the Bay. Ryan called me in early January to pitch the idea. The dinner would be an act of service for us men to show in an elevated and tangible way the selfless love we are called to exemplify by Jesus and the saints. I was intrigued by the magnitude of the idea and decided to sign on at that moment. Through many prayers during the planning, we were truly blessed with the logistical ability and motivation to bring such a massive idea to fruition.
How many men did you enlist to help you plan?
We wanted to keep the core team small and decided to have four members plan the event. We each had our roles. I designed anything related to how the event looked — the invitations, table name cards, name tags and posters with artwork from a Marian apparition.
How long did it take to plan the event?
We planned for around two and a half months to ensure the event would go smoothly. We invited 71 women and almost 40 came. Thirty men served the women, serving as waiters for the night. Other men, who couldn’t attend, were generous enough to donate to make the event possible, which helped cover the food, drinks and venue.
What message do you want women attending the event to come away with?
We wanted to make known to the women in our young adult community the honor and dignity always due to them. We also wanted to make them feel special by serving them a formal dinner!
Will there be another Beloved event?
As of now, yes. We are gathering feedback from everyone who attended the event to improve the next one and one-up ourselves. The timing and location are still to be decided, but we are very motivated by our first Beloved Dinner!
Women Express Their Appreciation
Nina Rose, 23, expressed her gratitude for the dinner, saying, “It was exactly what every woman desires — we had the opportunity to dress up and look our best, to be honored and recognized for who we are, to be served and treated with the utmost care and respect, and most of all … to have fun! With the raffle, dancing and amazing food, wine and company, we had the best of times.”
A couple of women who attended the event were not Catholic, but fellow Christians, and I was curious as to what they thought of the event, as both told me they had not seen anything like this done in their Protestant young adult groups.
Kylie Owen, 26, said, “The Beloved Dinner was an unparalleled experience in which I was reminded of chivalry and decency among young men in our generation. Not only did I cherish every moment, but the Beloved team created an exceptionally inviting environment with great food, music, dancing and words of wisdom. I wish all of my friends could partake in an event like this!”
Holly Hill, 23, added, “In a culture where expectations are increasingly shifting with regard to how women deserve to be loved and honored, these men set an example. Their effort, engagement and intentionality represent Christ. They restored hope for many women and were obedient to God’s calling. Their love spilled into the hearts of all of us attendees.”
During the introduction to the dinner, Ryan Lee said, “The world and our culture are confused about what a woman is. But let me be clear — there is no confusion here tonight. We know what a woman is. But more important than that, we know who a woman is. So thank you to all of you for bearing witness to who women are.”