Young adults gather to learn about faith, build friendships

The program is the same and the venue is similar. But one thing that has changed about Theology on Tap this fall is the Archdiocese of Omaha's involvement in the young adult speaker series.

Theology on Tap, an international program geared toward Catholics in their 20s and 30s, has taken place in the Archdiocese of Omaha off and on for many years.

But this year, the archdiocese is taking a more active role in assisting the seven members of the Theology on Tap core team with planning and funding events, including speaker fees and some of the food costs.

"In this way, more energy can go toward inviting others, advertising and building up the involvement and visibility of the events," said Father Paul Hoesing, vocations director for the archdiocese who oversees Theology on Tap. "We'd like to reach as many young adults as possible."

Theology on Tap Omaha just finished its 2010 Fall series, which drew nearly 100 young adults to Old Chicago in downtown Omaha, and plans are already under way for a Lenten series next spring.

Reaching young adults

Theology on Tap, which started in Chicago in 1981 and now is run by RENEW International, features the outreach of young adults to other young adults, Father Hoesing said.

They typically gather at a restaurant or bar to listen to a speaker talk about issues of faith and morals while enjoying food, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.

"So many young adults find themselves 'in between' jobs, dating or recent moves. Constant transition and uncertainty can make the stability of the faith seem foreign or impossible," he said. "Theology on Tap speakers and events attempt to reach that crowd of young adults who may not know that the church has a mission, and her mission of evangelization meets them where they are."

The speakers know the hearts of young adults and the events are hosted in venues that allow anyone attending to feel welcomed, he said.

"Most important, the topics covered during a Theology on Tap gathering will pierce the darkness that often envelops modern hearts, especially matters of love, truth and real happiness," Father Hoesing said.

During the Fall 2010 series, which ended Nov. 4, topics touched on searching for truth with Pope John Paul II, living a life of faith, letting God into the bedroom and the separation of church and state.

Information and empowering

Beth Klein, a member of the Theology on Tap core team, said Theology on Tap works to inform and empower the young adults in attendance with information about their faith so their lives can be enriched and they can better spread the truth about the faith to others.

"Many times young adults fall away from the faith during their college years and don't come back until they are looking to get married and have kids," said the 28-year-old Klein, a member of St. Bridget Parish in Omaha.

"We hope to bring those who are intimidated by the church setting into a low-key environment where they can be around people their own age, and reach them on their level," she said. "Young adults are often overlooked in parish life until they have kids so we are trying to reach that population."

Theology on Tap is meant for initial contact among young adults and a launch into further participation in small group studies and service projects, Father Hoesing said.

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"Whenever we initiate and follow through with new relationships, we build up the Body of Christ, the church," he said. "We want young adults to know that the church has Good News for them, and they are not alone. Many young adults are hearing the call of Christ and his desire for them to live the truth in love. Theology on Tap provides a great place for them to meet."

Printed with permission from the Catholic Voice, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb.

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