A largely unnoticed Catholic young adult ministry has proven to be an effective way of drawing 20- and 30-something generations to reconnect with the church. America magazine (Sept. 22) reports that since 1981, a program known as Theology On Tap has spread across the U.S. due to its informal style of discussion and socializing, often held in non-confrontational locations, such as bars and restaurants.
Nationwide, 381 parishes and organizations have asked permission from the Chicago-based Theology on Tap organization to hold gatherings, not to mention other programs based on the ministry but not officially registered as hosts. In Chicago, the program is based in individual parishes, while in other cities, Theology on Tap is organized by the diocese. Originally intended to create a positive Catholic experience for alienated young adults, the program has come to serve as a bridge between secular activities “and more religious activities for many individuals both inside and outside the parish,” writes Phyllis Hanlon.
As detailed in a 100-page manual by program founder Fr. John Cusick, Theology On Tap usually includes a talk, straight socializing, a question-and-answer session and discussion. Speakers relating scripture to everyday life tends to draw the largest crowds, according to Hanlon.
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