Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Theology on Tap series aims at concerns of Catholic young adults

by Jami LeBrun, Inland Register staff

(From the March 17, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)

On Feb. 22 the Spokane Diocese kicked off a four-week series of speakers, Theology on Tap. The series focused on topics of faith and contemporary issues that directly affect the lives on young adults in their 20s and 30s.

Each week nearly between 15-25 young adults from throughout the Spokane area gathered at Heroes & Legends, a downtown sports bar, to participate in the sessions. While some ate dinner or munched on appetizers, others simply leaned back and sipped beer as they listened to the speaker, occasionally raising a hand to ask a question.

Topics were varied and meant to raise issues important to young adults. The first session was in question and answer format. Father Mike Savelesky, Inland Register columnist and pastor of Assumption Parish in Spokane, answered questions from the participants about their Catholic faith.

Father Dan Barnett, pastor of St. Patrick and St. Francis Xavier parishes in Spokane, addressed sex and the theology of the body; and Father Bob McNeese, pastor of St. Augustine in Spokane, talked about who Jesus really was and what that means. Don McKenzie, the Parish Administrator at St. Paschal Parish in Spokane, finished the series with a discussion about Holy Week and how it can jump start an entire year of holiness.

Though young adults are a group that is notoriously difficult to engage, Paul Mach, the Youth Ministry Consultant for the Diocese of Spokane and organizer of the series, said characterized the interest in and turnout for the event as “very good.”

Mach organized the Theology on Tap speaker series because it had been so successful at reaching young adults in other dioceses.

“It works because we’re being missionaries,” said Mach. “We’re going to them instead of them coming to us. We’re doing it in a bar – a place many young adults are comfortable and familiar with. We’ve picked topics that are applicable to them. We’re trying to communicate to them that we care.”

According to the young adults who attended the series, that philosophy worked.

The sessions so far have been “really good,” said Colin Kelly, a parishioner at St. Peter Parish in Spokane, after Father Barnett’s discussion on the theology of the body. “The topics are very relevant, especially tonight.”

“Being young and married and Catholic puts us in a very small minority,” said Brenna Kelly, his wife. “This (the theology of the body) gives you affirmation of why to be chaste before marriage.”

Those who attended came for a variety of reasons. Some simply wanted to meet other Catholics closer to their own age. Others thought the topics looked intriguing, and still others simply wanted to support their diocesan programs. Carrie Cosby came to enlighten herself.

“I want to broaden my horizons and educate myself in my faith,” she said. “This format is great because it’s a relaxing, casual atmosphere that is totally informal.”

Mach said he hopes to continue the Theology on Tap program once or twice each year. His hope is that the young adults who attend will take what they learned back into their own parishes and continue their involvement on a parish level.

“This is just a supplemental program to what they’re already receiving,” said Mach. “It’s a way for young adults to know that in the wider Church there are others their age who are like them.”

(For more information on Theology on Tap or young adult ministry, contact Paul Mach at (509) 358-7314.)

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