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Theology finds a home in Murphy’s Pub

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Theology finds a home in Murphy’s Pub

Cassidy Brandt

Cassidy Brandt

Cassidy Brandt

By Tristan Jacobs, Staff Writer

On the first Thursday of every month, Murphy’s Pub hosts an event called Theology on Tap. Participants can order a drink or some appetizers and enter a conversation about God and faith.

Typically, Theology on Tap is led by Father Robert Lampitt, who is a University alumnus. He was unavailable for comment as he was leading a Catholic Illini retreat.

These talks at Murphy’s Pub are structured more as a discussion than a presentation. Ana Rodas is a graduate student studying design. She has attended almost all of the Theology on Tap events thus far.

“It’s honestly just like a conversation. Each one has a theme, you could say,” Rodas said.

Guest speakers come to Theology on Tap and start the event by talking about a specific theme or idea that relates to faith before diving into discussion.

For example, the most recent Theology on Tap was in early November. The guest speaker was a recently married alumna who focused on Love Languages.

“She gave examples and real-life situations that we all have kind of been through or are going through. But in a casual way; it felt like hanging out,” Rodas said.

Attendance numbers remain steady, Rodas said, with usually 25 to 30 people at each meeting. Once seats fill up, the floor is open to standing participants.

“The audience changes a little bit from talk to talk, but there’s always a consistent group that just goes because it’s a cool place to learn a bit more,” Rodas said.

Father Chase Hilgenbrinck is entering his fifth year in the priesthood and works as the assistant chaplain at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center on campus.

He views Theology on Tap as a way of bringing the Catholic community out to the rest of the world, as opposed to remaining within the Church.

“We’re just trying to be inclusive to the greater community that we have here and not just stay in our own little box.”

Hilgenbrinck went on to say that there are some people in the area who have never been to St. John’s Catholic Newman Center chapel.

Without a system in place, those people would not be exposed to the teachings of the Church or be able to ask their own questions. This is why Theology on Tap exists.

“We’re going into the world as it is, where people already are, and we’re trying to make something attractive for them to come and listen, to be intrigued and to ask questions,” Hilgenbrinck explained.

Father Hilgenbrinck has spoken as a guest lecturer at Theology on Tap but noted that the lecturers are not always Catholic.

“We try to bring other voices since people hear our voices all the time, so we’ve had various professors of this University who are Catholic or good Christians who have shared their faith with everyone,” Hilgenbrinck said.

Some of these discussions act as a model for students who may find it hard to live through their faith once in the midst of college life. This is where the guest speakers’ experiences become a key point of the meeting.

Guests bring their stories to the table as “inspiring examples of people who are already doing it, to say, this is my journey, this is how I navigated it, these are the ways I fell, these are the ways I struggled, and this is how I’m doing well,” Father Hilgenbrinck said.

Theology on Tap is designed to allow attendees to enjoy a discussion about faith, but it is not necessarily going to convince everyone of the Catholic faith. Theology on Tap was termed a “win event” by Father Hilgenbrinck.

“We’re just trying to win people over, we’re not trying to teach anybody deep theology there,” Father Hilgenbrinck said. “It’s just about making the faith relevant with topics and say, ‘Hey, this is how you can apply your life to a life with Jesus Christ.’”

Students of all beliefs are welcome to come, even if they haven’t fully committed to a faith.

Anthony Wegman is a senior in LAS. He’s attended several of the Theology on Tap events and said that new visitors are always welcome.

“It’s very welcoming,” Wegman said. “It’s honestly a great way to meet people, primarily Catholics. But if you have any questions about faith, this is a great way to get involved and ask.”

Theology on Tap meets on the first Thursday of every month. People interested in attending can follow their Facebook page, or the St. John’s Catholic Newman Center calendar for details.

“Anybody is invited. You could be an atheist and come to Theology on Tap to ask questions. We want to be inclusive and inviting and for people to know that we not only exist, but that they’re welcome here,” said Father Hilgenbrick.

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