INDIANAPOLIS (OSV News) – Theology on Tap has become a well-established speaker series geared for young adult Catholics in central and southern Indiana. It features a presentation on the faith where attendees can imbibe in adult beverages and socialize.
But the popular young adult program went to a higher level during a recent Indianapolis event.
The usual talk on the faith was offered and conversations among young adults went on well into the night. But the event also featured a holy hour of Eucharistic adoration and benediction. And young adults waited in line well beyond the event's conclusion to receive God's mercy in the sacrament of penance. Another line of participants led to prayer teams who prayed with young adults desiring spiritual assistance.
Theology on Tap is now popular enough in Indianapolis that it has outgrown each bar or restaurant where it has taken place. The archdiocese's Office of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry, which also bills itself as Indy Catholic, has moved it to a Knights of Columbus hall, which was filled with some 300 young adults from across central and southern Indiana July 12.
Emily Mastronicola, event and volunteer coordinator for Indy Catholic, was pleased to see so many young adults "actively seeking a relationship with the Lord."
"We believe every baptized person has been commissioned to evangelize and invite others into relationship with our Lord," she told The Criterion, the archdiocesan newspaper. "We get a lot of emails from people who are here for the summer or just moved because of a job and looking for community. The mission of Indy Catholic is to lead young adults into relationship with Jesus and equip them to become lifelong, missionary disciples."
Fr. Jonathan Meyer, who helps lead the four parishes in Dearborn County, started the night with a presentation on the Eucharist. Designated a national Eucharistic preacher by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for the three-year National Eucharistic Revival, Father Meyer invited his young adult listeners to consider why they go to Mass. Popular reasons, Fr. Meyer noted, involve preaching, Scripture, receiving Communion, music and an experience of community.
"None of those reasons are why you should go to Mass," Fr. Meyer said. "Not one of them. In fact, none of those are quintessentially what the Mass is. And none of them are necessary for the Mass."
Then why go to Mass? he asked. "The Mass is Calvary," Fr. Meyer said. "That's what Mass is. That's why we go to Mass. … What he did once on Calvary, he continues to offer to the Father. It's an eternal act of self-offering that Jesus offers to the Father on your behalf and on my behalf."
In coming to Calvary at the Mass, though, Fr. Meyer said, worshippers don't just witness Christ's sacrifice. They enter into it.
"He wants you to offer your life as well," he said. "When the priest takes up the paten and there's just bread on it, you're supposed to take yourself, your wounds, your hurt, but also the wounds and hurts of your mom, dad, brother, sister. This is why we have Mass intentions. You're supposed to put them on the paten.
"When the priest takes the chalice that has wine in it, … you're supposed to take your heart, your sorrow, your joy, your thanksgiving and put it in the chalice," he continued. "Your siblings who no longer go to church. Your work situation. Your dating situation. Your marriage situation. You put it into the chalice. Because they're then transformed into Jesus and are offered to the Father for our salvation."
Encountering this reality at the heart of the Eucharist, Fr. Meyer contended, is the heart of any hoped-for success in the National Eucharistic Revival.
"The key to this revival, I truly do believe, is for us to reclaim and understand why we go to Mass," he said. "We go to Mass because it is Calvary. "Stop saying, 'I'm going to Mass' and say instead, 'I'm going to Calvary.' Try it for a month. See what happens."
Following Fr. Meyer's presentation, the lights in McGowan Hall were lowered, a table adorned with an altar cloth and six candles was placed on its stage. Father Meyer then placed a monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament on it. During the holy hour that followed, young adults continued to make their way to one of the six priests on hand to hear their confession.
Groups of two or three people also prayed with participants, standing beside them, placing a hand on their shoulder and praying about whatever might be on their hearts. Musicians played meditative songs while young adults knelt, sat in their chairs or on the floor. Some even laid prostrate on the floor in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
The formal part of the July 12 Theology on Tap ended with Fr. Meyer presiding over benediction, blessing the 300 young adults with the Blessed Sacrament. But many young adults stayed at the Knights' hall well afterward to share each other's company.
Sam and Rachel Fairfield are siblings who came to the event from their home in Aurora in southeastern Indiana, where they are members of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish.
"It was pretty special," said Rachel, 27. "You just can't go around and talk to people our age these days about Catholicism. Here, I can walk up to anyone and have a conversation about (the faith)."
Matthew Neidig, 32, is a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. Raised as a Catholic, he left the practice of his faith as a teenager. He came back to the church about 18 months ago and received the sacrament of confirmation at Easter earlier this year. He appreciated taking part in Theology on Tap with such a large crowd of young adult Catholics.
"The sense of community was pretty powerful," he said. "I felt like I was definitely in the thick of it. It's really hard to feel alone in this group. Young people want something meaningful these days. They're trying to fill something. The young people who were here today are figuring out what's really worth filling that void with."