Bringing people together in a comfortable setting where they could socialize and learn something about their Catholic faith was the goal of a Theology on Tap gathering hosted by St. Mary Parish, Colts Neck, the evening of June 13.
UPDATED: Theology on Tap gathering was community-building event for Colts Neck parish
For two hours in the Source Farmhouse Brewery, some 75 parishioners, parish and diocesan staff and visitors relaxed and dined while listening to Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., share perspectives on four contemporary topics – faith, theology, the Eucharist and the XVI Synod of Bishops.
“I’ve hosted many Theology on Taps before,” whether it was in the past 13 years as Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton or prior to that, such as when he was president of The Catholic University of America, Washington.
“They are good evenings, important evenings. It gives you a chance to ask questions and a chance for me to answer those questions as best as I can,” he said.
Father Jeffrey E. Lee, pastor of St. Mary Parish, and Rose Farrow, pastoral coordinator of faith formation/youth catechesis and service, explained that while Theology on Tap is normally directed toward the Catholic young adult population, it was decided their June 13 event would be geared to all adult parishioners and offered as a community-building activity.
“This is a way to build faith as a community, to meet people where they are at and to share faith in a real life-setting,” Farrow said. “We hope to build community in a setting that reaches beyond the confines of Mass.”
In his presentation, Bishop O’Connell defined faith as a supernatural gift from God, a grace from God, that is supported by Scripture and Church teachings.”
Theology “leads Catholics to a deeper and stronger faith and explains things they believe,” the Bishop said, then explained that when someone is thinking about God and wants to study about God, that person would refer to sources such as the Bible and the Creed. Authentic theologians, or teachers of the faith, are the Pope and the bishops, who are the successors of the apostles.
“Theology explains faith in detail,” the Bishop said.
Bishop O’Connell reviewed the process of the three-year Eucharistic Revival and how its main purpose is to revive “what the Church has always believed and taught about the Eucharist.”
Referring to the 2019 Pew Research Center survey which indicated that only one-third of Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Bishop O’Connell said the Eucharist, which is the true Body and Blood of Christ is “a mystery that no one can explain. … I can’t imagine people would want to stay away from the Eucharist and the Mass.”
After presenting highlights of the 16th Worldwide Synod of Bishops and the Diocese’s participation in it, Bishop O’Connell fielded a number of questions from the audience.
Parishioner Renato Apolito thought the Theology on Tap concept was “quite clever, a good supplement to practicing my faith and I wanted to experience it.
“It was a great way to bring the parish together outside the formal environment of Mass, in a warm and non-intimidating setting, all while supporting a local business. I also enjoyed listening to the Bishop talk and expound upon some relevant topics,” he said. “It was refreshing to see the various ages and it gave me renewed faith that the Catholic Church is alive and well in our community.”