Chicagoland

Archdiocese launches Bible study for young adults

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
September 6, 2017

Young adult Catholics who want to take a deeper look at how the Word of God is active in their lives can participate this fall in Six Weeks with the Word, a series of weekly reflections on the Gospel of Matthew.

The series is intended to build on the momentum of the redesigned Theology on Tap, and will be held in nine locations throughout the archdiocese.

“The impulse behind this Bible study is to keep the spirit that’s been going on in the archdiocese with Theology on Tap,” said Father Bradley Zamora, director of liturgy and instructor of liturgy and music at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. “We want to make sure we have more for young adults than just occasional events. We had nearly 500 people at the Theology on Tap kickoff in July. Our young people are thirsty for the faith.”

That thirst seems to be best satisfied when they encounter the faith in the company of other young adults who are at the same stage of life and might be facing the same questions.

“It’s all about encounter,” Zamora said. “Where is the Word speaking to you in your life right now? How is the story of your faith being formed by the Word of God?”

“The idea came from the young adults themselves,” said Father Peter Wojcik, director of the Department for Parish Vitality and Mission. Wojcik said he asked members of the young adult steering committee who worked on reinventing Theology on Tap what they wanted but were not getting from the church. “It was the conversation around the Scripture.”

To continue the pattern from Theology on Tap, Six Weeks with the Word of God will start with a kickoff event at a centrally located watering hole.

The kickoff event will be held Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Nacional 27, 325 W. Huron St. Father John Kartje, rector/president of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary and an astrophysicist, will discuss “Making the Leap of Faith: A Talk on Science and the Bible by an Astrophysicist Priest.” To register, visit pvm.archchicago.org.

The sessions focus on the Gospel of Matthew because that is the Gospel being read during Mass this liturgical year, and they will use the book “Matthew 10-20: On the Road with Jesus” (Loyola Press). Each of the nine groups will include a priest, deacon or religious brother or sister and someone educated in the Scriptures, but the prayers and reflections will be led by young-adult facilitators.

Unlike a more traditional Bible study, which would have a more academic focus, these groups will be centered around forming community, Wojcik said.

“These groups are meant to be places for young adults to come together and learn from each other,” he said.

“If we take the Theology on Tap template for what this could be, you have a presenter who talks about something, a chance for encounter in small groups and a larger question-and-answer period,” said James Erler, parish vitality coordinator for Vicariate III. “In this case, the speaker is the Word of God, and it’s going to give people the opportunity to reflect on how it’s active in their lives.”

In addition to meeting a need for more focus on Scripture, the sessions will meet a need for small faith communities.

“A lot of young adults tell us they had these small faith-sharing communities in college, but when they get out of college, they can’t find that,” Erler said.
Scripture is an ideal focal point for those communities, he said.

“It’s so beautiful to go deep into Scripture,” Erler said. “There’s always something new to get out of it.”

Most, but not all, of the groups will meet in parishes. It was more important, Wojcik said, to find geographically convenient locations for young adults, many of whom don’t have regular parishes.

“Thirty percent of the people who came to Theology on Tap’s opening night were not practicing their faith much, maybe only going to church a few times a year,” Wojcik said. “An even bigger group had several parishes that they go to, instead of just one.”

It also fits into the spirit of Renew My Church, in which parishes are being asked to collaborate on how to best serve the people in their areas, Erler said.

For more information, visit pvm.archchicago.org/events/six-weeks-with-the-word-of-god.

Topics:

  • young adult ministry

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