Panel shares apologetics approaches with young adults at monthy Theology on Tap

By Juan Guajardo


June 27, 2014

They asked and they received. Young adults attending this month’s Theology on Tap at the Pour House in Fort Worth June 3 had the opportunity to ask those questions about the Church and the faith that had long been on their mind.

Featuring not one, but five guest speakers offering a wellspring of knowledge about apologetics, the Church’s teachings, Scripture, and theology, the packed-to-capacity audience fired away with questions ranging from Mary and the intercession of the saints to the Church’s stance on same-sex attraction and celibacy.

The panel included Leigh Gaines, the new youth and young adult minister at St. Andrew Parish in Fort Worth; Randell Labio, youth and young adult ministry volunteer at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Keller; Larry West, member of the North Texas Catholic Brothers for Christ and active lay minister at Good Shepherd in Colleyville; Father Gary Picou, who was ordained just last month; and Joe Magnetico, an apologetics enthusiast who attends St. Elizabeth.

Before fielding questions from the audience, the panel members shared their stories of how they got into apologetics. The common theme was people asking them questions about (what were primarily) misconceptions they had about the Catholic Church. Those questions prompted the speakers to learn their faith inside and out. But the speakers said they also learned important lessons about walking with others and sharing something as special as their faith with them.

Gaines, who studied theology at Franciscan University in Steubenville, said she tries to think about what Christianity looks like to “people who never heard about salvation history before” and tries to explain the faith in a way that’s relatable.

For Fr. Picou, apologetics isn’t about converting people or getting into arguments, it’s about “how we live our lives, which is the first step to conversion for others, and then from that they enter into dialogue with us.”

Likewise, West said that whenever he gets into conversations with others about the Church, he sees it as an opportunity to share his excitement about his faith.

“At this time in our history, it’s so obvious that people are hungry for their faith,” West said. “If you have enthusiasm about your faith, they’re like, ‘Wow! Why does he care? Why is she interested about the soul?’ If you have that interest, they’ll see that excitement in you.”

Indeed, their responses to the questions generated plenty of excitement and even rounds of applause from the audience.

One response that generated excitement was Fr. Picou’s answer to the question a young adult had been asked in a college class: “If you say you’re praying to Mary or the saints for their intercession to get more weight in your prayers, does that mean that God will change his mind from what He was originally going to do?”

The priest with several years of experience in young adult ministry responded by telling how when he was in high school he had really wanted a convertible Ford Mustang and prayed to God for that, but instead got a used Hyundai.

This was not when Hyundai was a good car,” he said. “I use that as an example. What I wanted and what I prayed for was answered, just not how I wanted it answered. My needs were met.”

He explained that while we’re here on Earth, we’re still dealing with “our brokenness and our sinfulness” and thus are selfish with our prayers. In contrast, “those that are in heaven before the heavenly throne have already been purified so that their prayers are… in line with what we actually need, so they can pray for us, take what we start with and turn around and say, ‘Lord, this is what he’s really asking for.’ It’s not changing the Lord’s mind because He was going to make sure I got that Hyundai Excel anyway.”

Fr. Picou went on to say that intercessory prayer is a very Catholic idea and reflects the reality that we are all members of the mystical Body of Christ.

“None of us are alone,” he said. “We pray for each other. When one hurts, we all hurt. When one is joyful, we’re all joyful. That’s part of what intercessory prayer is about too. It’s living within this body, this community. A lot of people don’t get that until they experience it. You can’t give them that experience — that’s the hard part. That’s where reason breaks down. Until you have that encounter with the living God, it’s hard to actually explain it.”

Du Nguyen, a parishioner from St. John the Apostle Parish in North Richland Hills, has attended Theology on Tap for the past two years but was pleasantly surprised by the variety of topics covered by the panel.

“There’s a lot of what they said that I haven’t even heard on Catholic radio or,” from “looking things up on Catholic Answers on the Internet,” he said. “It’s telling you that people have all sorts of different perspectives.”

“So every time you come to one of these events it’s something new. You’re always going to get something out of it.”

They asked and they received. Young adults attending this month’s Theology on Tap at the Pour House in Fort Worth June 3 had the opportunity to ask those questions about the Church and the faith that had long been on their mind.

Published (until 1/14/2115)