February 23, 2011 // Local

Theology on Tap features Bishop Rhoades

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades attends the Theology on Tap with young adults from the diocese. The event was held at the Backstage Grill in South Bend. One hundred young people attended the event.

By Trish Linner

SOUTH BEND — Bishop Rhoades was the featured speaker as Theology on Tap returned to downtown South Bend on Tuesday evening, Feb. 15. The series is sponsored by the Office of Campus and Young Adult Ministry, and is designed to bring young adults in their 20s and 30s together for an evening of faith and fellowship.

“Our goal is to help people connect their faith to their everyday lives,” said Sean Allen from the diocesan office. “We like to host the event at least twice every year and as we approach the Lenten season. We thought this was a great opportunity to invite the bishop to speak.”

Theology on Tap was first held in Fort Wayne in 2009, and now includes South Bend as well.

The Theology on Tap format includes a speaker, small group discussion, and then the speaker engages the entire group in a question-answer session.

Bishop Rhoades spoke to the crowd of well over 100 about “New Evangelization,” a term coined by Pope John Paul II to help people understand the importance of evangelization in the mission of the Church and in our everyday lives.

Bishop Rhoades told the group, “Evangelization is our mission, our common vocation and our deepest identity. The Church exists in order to evangelize.”

He spoke of his years in Rome as a student and the deep impression that Pope John Paul II made on him.

“Pope John Paul II was a great model of what bishops should be,” Bishop Rhoades said, “He understood that evangelization is the heart of our Church which flows from Jesus Christ, the first to evangelize.”

He talked about the importance of the Holy Spirit and reminded them it was the Holy Spirit who visited the disciples and gave them strength to go out into the world and spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

“The Holy Spirit came upon them and filled the disciples with serene courage that they didn’t have before. Because of the Holy Spirit, they had the ability to bear witness to not only the Jews but the gentiles as well,” said Bishop Rhoades.

He also discussed the challenges facing evangelization in today’s world.

“Pope Benedict has said, ‘The world needs the presence of God,’” Bishop Rhoades quoted.

“And one of our greatest challenges is secularism, the increasing desire to marginalize God and our faith in Him.” Bishop Rhoades said.

“A secular world,” he explained, “wants to criticize religion and trivialize and privatize any faith in God. And when the sense of God is gone, the culture of death grows.”

Another danger the bishop spoke of was relativism: “The denial of absolute truth leads to unrestricted human choice and excessive human choice leads to slavery to sin. Freedom is found in absolute truth and guarantees the dignity of humans. Today’s technology makes it more important than ever that young people must stay diligent as they face new issues testing their faith.”

Bishop Rhoades engaged the audience with a question-answer session.

Lois Burns told Bishop Rhoades, “I really liked what you said about praying to the Holy Spirit for courage. Renewing our faith is so important.”

The crowd also discussed the often-negative portrayal of the Catholic Church in the media and the misunderstandings that exist about Catholic beliefs.

Bishop Rhoades concluded the evening with prayer reminding the group of the ongoing mission and commitment to evangelize as Christ did.

Bishop Rhaodes left a great impression with the attendees, many who hadn’t heard him speak before.

“This was the first time I was able to hear Bishop Rhoades speak, and I was very impressed with the talk that he gave,” said Dan Mullaney. “One thing I took away from the night was that while I strive to lead a holy life individually, I need to recognize that the true mission of my life as a Catholic is to bring God’s Word to others and to lead by example.”

Jim Creagan agreed saying, “Bishop Rhoades is an impressive speaker. The format with discussions helps apply the information to real life. We had the chance to share our experiences and learn from each other.”

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