Renewed Theology on Tap in Sarasota

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

12/20/2018

Theology on Tap offers an innovative solution to one of today’s most pressing pastoral concerns: how to reach out to young Catholic adults.

With successful ongoing efforts in Naples, Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres, Joshua Mazrin, Diocese Director of Evangelization, decided to try to reintroduce the Theology on Tap concept in the Northern Deanery.

The first gathering was Dec. 6 at the Mandeville Beer Garden in downtown Sarasota, just a few blocks from St. Martha Parish. The bar includes an outdoor deck which offered the ideal location for fellowship and a discussion about the Faith in a comfortable and relaxed setting.

Several years ago, Theology on Tap rotated between Parishes in the Northern Deanery, but interest waned when there was a large gap one summer.

Mazrin said this first reintroduction, which had little promotion, drew about 20 people, and served to gauge interest in the concept as well as to help build momentum for having future monthly gatherings with different topics and speakers.

“It can often be difficult for young adults to stay connected to the Faith,” Mazrin added. “As a young Catholic, it can be easy to feel left out of the Parish because few activities even hold their interest. Sadly, young adults can sometimes be overlooked to the extent that even their absence goes unnoticed.”

Two priests were present for the Sarasota gathering. Father Eric Scanlan, Administrator of Incarnation Parish in Bradenton and Diocese Vocations Director, as well as Father Shawn Roser, a Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton who was ordained in July, joined in the fellowship.

Father Roser also offered the opening prayer, which included a blessing for success of the event, the growth in faith for all and for the beverages being consumed.

The idea of Theology on Tap is to bring together young adults where they feel most comfortable while inviting them to discover how Faith can give sense to their everyday lives. The evenings are about coming together to socialize, collaborate, pray, and grow in their spiritual understanding all while building a strong core community.

“This has real potential,” Mazrin said. “We just need to spread the word.”

Based on the response of those who attended in Sarasota Theology on Tap, the word will spread.

One young lady had several people in mind whom she plans to invite to future Theology on Tap gatherings. “This was really nice,” she said. “Meeting Catholics my age is always hard. Plus, it is a struggle to live my Faith because I just don’t have a real connection to my Parish.”

Mazrin noted that the next gathering will be Jan. 24 and more details to announced through the Diocese Young Adults Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DOVYoungAdults.

While the Sarasota area Theology on Tap is just returning, the Naples area gatherings are going strong. The site of the gatherings rotates each Tuesday throughout the month at different parishes and are held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays: First Tuesday at St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Avenue North; Second Tuesday at St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road; Third Tuesday at St. Peter the Apostle Parish, 5130 Rattlesnake Hammock Road; Fourth Tuesday at St. William Parish, 601 Seagate Drive. Call the individual parishes for further details as some gatherings are held off-site.

In Lehigh Acres, the LOFT young adult group meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at St. Raphael Parish, 2514 Lee Blvd. Call 239-369-1831 for further information.

In Fort Myers, ROOTED meets first Thursday of the month, St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Call 941-561-3022 ext. 107.

For more information about Theology on Tap, or if you have ideas about how to reach out to young adults Catholics, please contact Joshua Mazrin at mazrin@dioceseofvenice.org.

Summertime and the Giving is Easy 2018

Annual Campaign to support Catholic Charities

Staff Report

7/13/2018

Every day vulnerable people living throughout Southwest Florida go to their local Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. office seeking relief. This assistance can come in the form of nourishment, education, shelter, or in the support of at-risk children, isolated elderly, struggling families and homeless individuals.

For this reason, Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. offers the opportunity for supporters to give directly to the causes which empower those in need through the “Summertime and the Giving is Easy” Campaign. The theme for the 2018 Campaign is “EmPOWer your neighbors in need with strength. Be a SuperHero and Give!”

A file photo of a familily at Casa San Juan Bosco farm worker housing of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. in Arcadia.

Giving to the “Summertime and the Giving is Easy” Campaign builds up the people of Southwest Florida with the courage and hope to move beyond poverty and achieve self-sufficiency. By supporting this Campaign generously, for example, you can help lift a child out of poverty, give nourishment to a senior, put a roof overhead for a homeless family, supply a home for a veteran, or offer stability to a victim of human trafficking.

Each year, Catholic Charities serves more than 40,000 families and individuals regardless of race, nationality or creed with more than 30 specialized programs that are focused on improving lives. A total of 92 cents of each dollar donated to Catholic Charities goes directly to programs and services. Charity Navigator, a leading evaluator of non-profits, consistently rates Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. among its top-rated organizations, giving its highest rating for sound fiscal management a total of 15 times over the past 17 years. The “Summertime and the Giving is Easy” is a chance to brighten the future for your neighbors who come to Catholic Charities for help. Any gift amount is greatly appreciated!

Support with stability.

Volunteers at the Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center of Catholic Charities assist clients as they go through the “Choice Food Pantry” in Naples in late June.

The Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program guides victims to attain a healthy life.

Catholic Charities administers Professional Counseling Services that keep families together and offer relief. Frail and isolated elders come to the Senior Support Coordination Program to live independently. A victim of labor trafficking recently expressed his gratitude from the work of Catholic Charities to create a stable and safe living environment for his family. “I have not the right words for all who have helped us, but I am so thankful.”

Sheltering the homeless.

The North Port Family Haven provides emergency housing and long-term case management for homeless families. At Our Mother’s House in Venice, desperate mothers and their children have a safe place to live where they can work toward self-sufficiency. One mother recently completed the extensive education program, leaving with a stable job and housing for her and her child and a very bright future. “Our Mother’s House changed my life. I was essentially homeless with a young child and no options. I was desperate. Today, I am a very different person. I never would have thought it was possible.” Additionally, Casa San Jose in Sarasota gives those living with HIV a proper residence to enhance the quality of their life. The Veteran’s House, also in Sarasota, offers a deserving veteran a roof over his/her head.

Feeding the hungry.

Food Pantries located throughout Southwest Florida distribute thousands of pounds of food every week. Homeless school children are sustained over the weekend through the Weekend Power Pack Food Program in Naples. The Casa Maria Soup Kitchen in Immokalee serves around 35,000 hot meals each year. The nutritional center at Bethesda House in Sarasota assists special needs clients with healthy food items.

Catholic Charities educates children and adults.

At St. Martha’s Early Learning Center in Sarasota, low-income preschoolers become kindergarten ready. The AFCAAM Center in Fort Myers provides after-school tutoring and mentoring for disadvantaged youth. Our Summer Camps offer a fun and educational experience. Families living at Casa San Juan Bosco in Arcadia learn beneficial life skills.

These are some of the children who particpate in the Catholic Charities Day Care at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Boca Grande.

In addition to all the work previously mentioned, Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. continues to take a central role in helping many in the Diocese of Venice recover from Hurricane Irma. This initially included the establishment and operation of 12 different Disaster Response Centers which served as central hubs for the distribution of much needed food and water and other necessities. Approximately 82,000 people were helped in just the first three weeks.

In the long-term recovery from Hurricane Irma, Catholic Charities has been at the front lines by providing caseworkers which aid individuals and families in getting back into permanent housing through financial assistance or assisting families who lost work meet the needs of food and other necessities.

“Summertime and the Giving is Easy” is a chance to brighten the future for your neighbors who come to Catholic Charities for help. Any gift amount is greatly appreciated!  You can make your contribution in honor or in memory of a loved one. Donations can be made to a specific program of Catholic Charities or to the general fund where the money will go where it is most urgently needed.

The giving is easy! To donate, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org, or write to Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065. Your gift will make a positive impact!

‘Grillin’ with Grace!’ brings spiritual insight

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

7/13/2018

For six consecutive Tuesdays the faithful are gathering for a spiritual evening of prayer, fellowship and inspiration.

The “Grillin’ with Grace!” series is an pilot outreach of the Office of Evangelization seeking to engage the faithful on relevant issues in a casual setting. Having commenced on July 3 at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, the series continues at 6 p.m. each Tuesday evening in July at the same location, as new speakers and topics are discussed. The culminating event in the series will be Tuesday, Aug. 7 and will take place at the Siesta Key Beach Pavilion in Sarasota when the guest speaker will be Bishop Frank J. Dewane.

The first gathering in the series on July 3 began at 6 p.m. with a Holy Hour that included Eucharistic Adoration and the praying of the rosary. A fresh-cooked barbeque dinner followed. When everyone had a chance to eat a hearty meal, the evening transitioned into a talk from guest speaker Father Casey Jones, who is Chaplain at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers and Campus Minster at Florida Gulf Coast University.

During his talk, Father Jones explored the question as to why Catholics don’t go to Mass. When queried, those gathered were quick to note that the Mass can be repetitive and not inspirational. Others noted that some parishes are not welcoming meaning they become isolated in their Faith.

Father Jones said this sad reality is a failing on the part of many, from the priests on down to those in the pews who arrive late and leave early. “It almost as if they are there to receive a cookie and that’s it. The Mass is so much more”

The Mass is a presentation of the Gospel, Father Jones explained, the reality of the events of salvation made present. The Gospel is defined as the Good News of Salvation.

“Most Catholics don’t seem to realize that,” Father Jones said. “The Mass can never be boring. We are there to participate in the inner life of Christ and to be sent out to proclaim the Gospel – the Good News of Salvation.”

Father was concerned that people feel alone at the Mass, since the Mass, whether with one person, a hundred or thousands, is really a celebration with the entire Church in heaven and earth, is present as one.

A young man, who said he drifted away from the faith for several years before returning, suggested that priests take just a minute or so out of each homily to speak of the Good News of Salvation as a gentle reminder for all, but specifically for those who may have never learned or may have forgotten what the Mass is all about. “I don’t remember learning any of this growing up Catholic,” he said. “I learned it when I returned and explored my faith more deeply.”

Others mentioned that the catechesis they received as children is long forgotten. One young lady mentioned that she benefitted from two different week-long summer religious retreats. These retreats opened her eyes to the Faith in ways she had not experienced earlier in life. “We talked about the Faith at home, but it wasn’t until later that I realized the beauty and joy that the Mass has to offer.”

 

For more information about “Grillin’ with Grace!” please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/offices/daily-resources/calendar/.

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