CINCINNATI -- Forty Catholics walk into a brewery to talk politics.
That’s not the beginning of a joke.
Cincinnati Theology on Tap at Clifton started its annual discussion series for young adults at MadTree Brewing on Oct. 5 with the session “What It’s Like to be Civil, Clear & Compassionate this Election Season.” The group will have similar sessions on Wednesdays throughout this month.
Theology on Tap is a nationwide lecture and discussion series aimed at young adults. The Clifton chapter was started in 2009 and is one of four sponsored by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
“The program was invented … to bring the gospel, to bring faith to places where young adults are comfortable and enjoy being,” said Sean Reynolds, director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Reynolds said those places typically have a tap.
The Clifton chapter used to have its sessions at Martino’s On Vine, and then bounced around to different places in 2015. After holding one session at MadTree last year, the planning committee decided to move the entire series there.
Tony Stieritz, director of the Catholic Social Action Office for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, led the first discussion on civilized debate. He presented the archdiocese’s campaign “Civilize It,” a nonpartisan movement to change the tone of political debate while following the teachings of the Catholic faith.
“I hope we all walk away with a little bit more sense and commitment to civilized dialogue … and that each of us feels a little stronger conviction to go out and to dialogue with others but to also respect others in that conversation so that together we build the common good and not just have things deteriorate into the tenor of the election season that we're in right now,” Stieritz said.
All start at 7 p.m. at MadTree
Oct. 12: “What It’s Like to be an Immigrant in America”
Oct. 19: “What It’s Like to be Impoverished in America”
Oct. 26: “What It’s Like to be a Muslim in America”
“What we're trying to do is give voice to those who are on the margins,” Reynolds said. “We're all about constructing a civilization of love.”
Sister Leslie Keener, a member of the planning committee and campus minister at St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center, said she hopes Theology on Tap can provide a space for young Catholics who have difficulty finding a place in the church because of being younger among older churchgoers, moving to a new city for a job or transitioning into young adulthood after college.
John Dumas fits in that category. He graduated this year from the University of Notre Dame. He said he didn’t know what to expect from Theology on Tap.
“I'm just trying to keep an open mind going into them,” Dumas said. “I just am expecting to come … with some people I know, some people I don't and just learning something new.”
Keener said giving young adults a space to talk about their faith and connect with each other is important, but so is not letting the connections dry up with the tap.
“Theology on Tap is not meant to be an end, but sort of a beginning or re-engagement for people,” Keener said.