Cardinal mixes suds and Scripture at ‘Theology on Tap’

QUINCY -- The archdiocese’s Theology on Tap program hosted Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley Oct. 10, who delivered a talk titled “Handing on the Faith” at Bad Abbots pub.

“If we really believe, passing on the faith is not an option. It is an imperative,” the cardinal told the more than 120 young adults packed into the pub to hear his talk.

“Our faith is anything but private. We pass it on. We talk about it. We tell the story of our faith to our children and to the people God has put in our paths,” he said.

The cardinal said he is concerned with the Church’s ability to nurture adult faith formation and that Catholics could learn from other faith communities.

There are three categories of adult Catholics, he said.

The first group, he said, are Catholics committed and active in their faith, which the Church must help to take that faith to a deeper understanding and fuller enjoyment.

“We also need to outreach to the unchurched by having a good RCIA program and teams that are ever-finding ways to invite people to consider joining the Church,” he said.

“The last group, the inactive Catholics, is the most difficult and here much reflection, prayer, and planning needs to take place on how to reach out to them,” he said. “Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals are moments when inactive Catholics find themselves in church. We must learn to make the most of these moments, when to welcome people home and put on the Church’s best face.”

The cardinal said Catholics need to present the faith-centered life as an alternative to the world they find themselves living in, obsessed with materialism, entertainment and the cult of the celebrity.

This contrast led the cardinal to recount one of his encounters with the popular culture. “I was the guest at a dinner at the White House and the woman sitting next to me introduced herself as Gloria Estefan,” he said.

“Oh, do you work here at the White House?” the cardinal said he asked her.

“No, bishop, I am a famous singer,” Estefan replied.

“Well, obviously you don’t sing Gregorian Chant,” he said.

The Theology on Tap movement started in Chicago more than 20 years ago by a man who was frustrated by the lack of faith-themed options available to young professional Catholics, said Thomas K. Lyman, who leads the Quincy chapter and attends Wollaston’s St. Ann’s Church.

Lyman said he was active in the Boston program and when he joined the parish he mentioned it to the pastor Father Michael Drea. “It was on the steps of the church when we first met.”

Already, the program has led young adults in the parish to become more active in attending Mass, go on retreats and volunteer in other programs, he said.

Father Drea encouraged Lyman to put together a committee and, one year later, they were ready to launch, he said. The first meeting was in May 2006.

The normal attendance ranges from 50 to 60, so the cardinal’s talk was more than double the normal size, he said. “I was expecting 70 to 80, but we had more than 120 sign in.”

Father Drea said he invited Cardinal O’Malley after the cardinal addressed a Theology on Tap gathering in Lowell.

After his remarks at Abbots, Cardinal O’Malley took questions from the floor, including the request for an update on his invitation to Pope Benedict XVI to visit Boston after the Holy Father speaks at the United Nations in New York City.

The Vatican is expected to respond in the next month, he said. “I suggested they move the U.N. to Boston if the Red Sox win, but they didn’t agree.”