Young adults are vibrant, active, and many times, challenging to reach. However, the long summer days also bring the community together for monthly fellowship and after-work brews. To create a sustainable faith ministry that meets busy young adults where they are—this is the mission of Theology on Tap.
“We strive to create a space where [young adults] feel welcome, comfortable, and at home, as well as a place where they find some answers to their ‘whys’,” shared Michael Ramirez, a young adult ministry coordinator at St. Denis parish in Diamond Bar, one of the many parishes hosting this summer’s Theology on Tap series.
On Monday evenings at St. Denis parish in Diamond Bar, young adults from ministries in Orange, LA and San Bernardino counties have been getting together each week since mid-June to hear from engaging speakers, enjoy delicious beer/food, and gather in friendship as one church community.
“The ‘Tap’ keeps the environment casual and inviting for friends, cousins, brothers and sisters alike, but we also close the bar after the speaker starts focus and center on the One we came for,” Ramirez continued.
Sponsored by Renew International and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, St. Denis has been able to host free weekly TOT events—with dinner and an open beer bar—each summer for several years, open to all twenty and thirty-somethings from all over Southern California.
Speakers from the past few sessions have included Dr. David Sanchez (Associate Professor of Theological Studies and Director of American Cultures at Loyola Marymount University, Rev. Fr. John Montejano (National Board member for NET Ministries, and Judge on the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of LA Archdiocese), and Sr. Mary Kathleen Burns (Sister of Notre Dame and Director of the House of Formation for the Sisters in Long Beach).
“The family is the fundamental cell where we learn to live and learn from others…and this reflects our church society in the world,” shared Fr. John Montejano, at his June 20 talk on the family and marriage.
Shared Sr. Kathleen Burns from “Being Catholic in a Secular World” on June 27, “You don’t coast or go neutral in discipleship. Jesus never promised that being a disciple would be easy—He is always drawing us in deeper, and He meets us along the road.”
Along with the food and message, TOT also typically involves activities, praise and worship, table discussion, and an interactive prayer led by young adult ministers from St. Denis, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Rowland Heights, and St. Paul the Apostle in Chino Hills.
“TOT has been a way for me to learn more about my faith, meet more wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ who are thirsty for the Word…and it holds a special place in my heart because it was truly an unanswered prayer,” shared Beverli Legua, a St. Elizabeth Ann Seton minister and the communications and stewardship program assistant for the orange Catholic Foundation.
“It’s important for young adults to have a community. We are not only called to have a personal relationship with God, but to also share that relationship with others. Having a second family to watch out for you is a beautiful thing and helps us to be accountable, to pray.”
Agreed Ramirez, “I have felt the restlessness and emptiness in the heart that penetrates today’s young adult culture. One of the best ways [young adults] learn is through peers. I believe they keep coming back because we strive to facilitate encounter, and truly depend on the Lord’s Holy Spirit and His working in His sons and daughters. They learn about many of life’s questions and from each other’s experiences.”
“I like TOT because it incorporates all different age ranges, from those who are still discerning school, to those who are married and professionals. It’s hard to find a speaker to cater to all the different age groups,” shared St. Denis parishioner and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton minister Marian Sobretodo. “We’re in the real world, and community allows people to understand, encourage, and support you, and make you feel less alone in your faith journey. We’re all going through that same phase of life.”
Said Ramirez, “It is our role to provide a unique opportunity for the church to mobilize, reach, and disciple young adults. To sum up my role, I like the phrase ‘Millennial Discipleship.’”
This summer, Theology on Tap sessions (for young adults aged 18 and up) are happening all over the region, from St. Andrew’s in Pasadena on Tuesdays to Our Mother of Good Counsel in Los Angeles on Saturdays.
The final TOT at St. Denis Catholic Church (2151 S Diamond Bar Blvd, Diamond Bar, CA 91765) is on Monday, July 11th at 7pm, with St. Camillus Center’s (and County-USC chaplain) Fr. Chris Ponnet to discuss the Church’s Social Teaching and Voting.