The main message and recurring metaphor for the first Theology on Tap session of the winter series at the University of Saint Francis Historic Woman’s Club in Fort Wayne focused on the theme of gratitude.
This Theology on Tap series is hosted by young adults and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, the University of Saint Francis and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Theology on Tap delves into Catholic theology and provides a space for young adults to converse, listen to knowledgeable speakers, discuss and ask questions amongst themselves and share food and drinks in comradery and fellowship. It is aimed toward young adults ages 21 to 39. Meetings are held on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 from February 1 through March 1.
Stacey Huneck, the youth ministry coordinator at St. Charles Borromeo in Fort Wayne and head of the Theology on Tap series, stated that young adults should come to such events “to grow in community, to meet other young adults, and to develop spiritual lives.” She continued, “We weren’t made for isolation. We were made for relationships.”
The entire series is entitled “Go Forth” and discussions will revolve around “how the Lord gives us Himself to be nourished,” according to an event moderator.
The first night of the series was entitled “Thanks Be to God” and featured Father Stephen Felicichia, parochial vicar of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Fort Wayne, as the speaker.
Father Felicichia began his talk by explaining that “every prayer begins with gratitude.” He further relayed that “gratitude has to do with gift,” which we have to be “open to receive like a child.” Throughout his inspiring and moving presentation — its entirety of which garnered much applause, chatter and good-natured laughter — Father Felicichia recounted his time spent serving in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant in the field artillery and shared with the crowd how he found moments of gratitude and awe during those times. Some young adults even expressed that his military stories were their favorite parts of his talk.
He described a particular time he experienced gratitude when a troop’s truck hit a bomb and everyone inside of the truck miraculously survived. Father Felicichia himself was not in that vehicle, but he did witness the event, recalling to the audience that “even though God knows everything and how it ends, He’s thankful they are ok because they’re His.” This reminded the crowd that just as humans could be thankful, so too could God. As G.K. Chesterton put it, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
Discussion questions were provided for dialogue among the young adults following Father Felicichia’s talk. Attendees were prompted to recount the last time that they had created a list of things they were grateful for, as well as how frequently they spoke the words “thank you.” A microphone was passed around later to offer young adults the chance to ask Father Felicichia questions.
The next three events will have different topics and different speakers and will also be held at the downtown Fort Wayne location. The fifth and final event of the series will include Mass and a Mardi Gras party, which will be held on the campus of the University of Saint Francis at the St. Francis Chapel and Brookside Mansion, respectively.
This series also includes a patron, Blessed Carlo Acutis. It was explained that Blessed Carlo Acutis was born in London but raised in Milan, confirmed at the age of seven and had a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother. He was also a gamer and passed away at only 15 years old. Due to his young age and hobbies, his example is one that the young adults in attendance can relate to without difficulty. His feast day is October 14.
Toward the end of the evening, Father Felicichia also reminded the audience that the word “Eucharist” quite literally means “thanksgiving,” which paves the way for the next event of this Theology on Tap series featuring Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades as he speaks about the real presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
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