New additions to Theology on Tap this year

By Daniel P. Smith | Contributor
Sunday, July 31, 2011

For those seeking answers to Catholic traditions as well as those working to understand the work-life-faith juxtaposition in today’s world, there need not be a continuous void and persistent hunger.

Not when there’s an accessible and ever-evolving solution in one’s midst.

Enter Theology on Tap, presently in its 31st consecutive summer of helping young adults find spiritual grounding and understanding in the Catholic faith.

This year, organizers have added new topics including the new translation of the Roman Missal and will top the series off with a Young Adult Ministry Day at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee.

Theology on Tap remains one of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s most successful outreach efforts and a staple of the Young Adult Ministry office directed by Father John Cusick. Over the program’s three decades, more than 200 Chicago-area sites have hosted in excess of 4,000 programs.

“Theology on Tap is the only archdiocesan program that is directed solely and exclusively to those in their 20s and 30s, married or single — that alone makes it significant, important, and relevant,” Cusick said.

Filling a void

For those young adults with a spiritual hunger, Theology on Tap steps in as a compelling social and reflective offering. The annual four-week summertime program, one started in Chicago and now replicated around the globe, promotes faith alongside other like-minded, like-aged souls.

“Theology on Tap is an opportunity for young adults to come into communion together and breed connections that allow us all to delve deeper into our faith,” Theology on Tap coordinator Emily Klaus said.

The 2011 edition of Theology on Tap opened July 10. The speaker and conversation series runs at 39 parishes and campus centers throughout the archdiocese as well as eight sites in the Joliet diocese. The program features a diverse and rich array of more than 50 speakers discussing everything from theological traditions and art to Catholicism in today’s world and moral decisionmaking.

Theology on Tap, the Young Adult Ministry office says, is “an opportunity to view the world ‘without’ through the eyes of the world ‘within.’” By seeking to understand the spiritual traditions of the Catholic faith and conversing with peers, the hope is that participants witness how Catholic spirituality interfaces with daily life in the modern-day world.

“We try to listen to the questions people are asking and present material that speaks to hunger and needs,” Cusick said.

New in 2011

While Theology on Tap claims a 30-year track record, the program introduced a trio of new elements into its 2011 run.

While previous summer sessions ended with a Mass at Holy Name Cathedral followed by a so- cial gathering at the Cardinal’s residence, Theology on Tap leaders unveiled a new and cost-free final celebration this year.

On Aug. 7, Theology on Tap’s concluding Mass will take place at the Archbishop Quigley Center’s St. James Chapel, 835 N. Rush St. Immediately following the 4:30 p.m. Mass with Cardinal George, participants can enjoy a party at the Quigley Center.

“The value here is having everyone and everything on the same site and to do so at no cost to participants,” Cusick said.

Also new to this year is a discussion of the new translation of the Roman Missal. For the first time in the life of all young adults, the celebration of Mass will see shifts in both the words priests say as well as the attendees’ responses. The changes take effect Nov. 27, 2011.

“Everybody who is Catholic is going to see and hear things differently with these revisions, and we felt it important that participants were exposed to what’s happening and why,” Cusick said, noting that the Missal presentation will be at most, but not all, of the Theology on Tap host sites.

A week after Theology on Tap’s concluding celebration at the Quigley Center, participants can continue the festive mood with Young Adult Ministry Day at Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor in north suburban Gurnee. In addition to entry into both entertainment venues, guests can enjoy a picnic buffet and a 6 p.m. Mass led by Cusick.

“Theology on Tap has a social component and Great America is certainly a fun, social place,” Klaus said. “Celebrating Young Adult Ministry Day offers a fun way to cap off the summer-long Theology on Tap experience.”