VANCOUVER – The second Tuesday of the month finds Reggie Anderson ordering a pint, having a slice and pondering what it means to be Catholic.
He’s just one of 15 to 20 young adults who gather regularly at Kiggins Theatre in downtown Vancouver for Theology on Tap.
Anderson, a parishioner at Holy Redeemer Parish in Vancouver, said he attended the kickoff gathering last fall because “it sounded like a really cool idea.”
But he came back the next month, and the next, because “we really dig into the heavy topics of the day and relate them to theology,” he said.
Chiara Marcy, pastoral assistant for youth ministry at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Vancouver, said millennials have different expectations for faith formation opportunities.
“If an event happens to involve coffee or beer, that’s a great way to get people in the room,” Marcy said, “but millennials are looking for depth of experience.”
She and Nick Longo, youth ministry coordinator at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Vancouver, keep that in mind when coordinating the speakers each month. They spread the word about Theology on Tap to young adults at Vancouver’s five parishes — Holy Redeemer, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. John the Evangelist, St. Joseph and the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater.
“We do our best to do things as a deanery,” Marcy said. “When we come together, we bring the different perspectives of our home parishes.”
Speaking from the heart
On the designated Tuesday, the group gathers in a private upstairs room at Kiggins Theatre. People show up around 7:30 and spend a half hour mingling, ordering drinks (soda for those under 21) and pizza. Then they settle in tables to hear the night’s speaker. Afterward, there’s time for a Q-and-A session with the speaker and additional discussion, Longo said.
Each speaker comes up with his or her topic. “If it’s not something that resonates with the speaker’s heart,” Marcy explained, “it won’t resonate with the listeners.”
Since millennials are more self-reflective, Marcy said, topics have included the meaning of life, vocations, prayer and evangelizing through social media.
When Marcy took a turn speaking to the group recently, she chose the theme of prayer and how it fits into everyday life. “Rather than prayer as discussion or conversation, I spoke about prayer as a relationship,” she said.
Anderson said hearing Marcy’s talk helped him prioritize his day. “It’s easy to put the small things first and leave the bigger things, like prayer, last,” he said.
Evie Licea, Anderson’s fiancée and a regular at Theology on Tap, said she benefits from hearing the various speakers. “I need that reminder,” she said. “I tend to stress out about things, so I need to trust that [Jesus] will take care of things.”
‘Come check this out’
Not only does Theology on Tap benefit the spiritual life of the participants, but it’s also a way for parishes to connect with millennials. And it’s an easy way for Catholic young adults to extend an invitation to fellowship — “Hey, come check this out,” Longo said.
“The way I look at it,” he said, “it’s great for pre-evangelization.”
After hearing Longo’s presentation about evangelizing through social media, Anderson said he was inspired to reach out to a couple of family members and friends who were having a hard time. And he realized that social media is not just a way to keep in touch, but it can also help educate people about Catholicism. Through Twitter and Facebook, Anderson said, he can reach people “where they’re at to deliver the good news.”
Licea also was inspired by Longo’s presentation, reaching out afterward to family and friends in her hometown of Yakima. “No matter how busy life is, [social media] is a good way to show people I still care for them,” she said.
When it comes to evangelization, Catholics need to be creative, Marcy said.
“What’s the next place that people don’t expect you to be?” Marcy asked. “We need to be in those unexpected places, go into those taprooms.”
Check out Theology on Tap
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- UW Newman Center plans expansion to better serve parishioners
- Dating differently: ‘The Dating Project’ documentary comes to local theaters April 17
- Vancouver parishioners discern spiritual gifts at ‘called and gifted’ workshop
- Finding new life