To many college students, theological discussions are generally not the topic of choice when at a bar. It’s not the first thought to bring up life decisions or moral beliefs after ordering a couple pitchers. With the introduction of the new Theology on Tap program this semester, this may not be the case any longer.
In 1981, the series Theology on Tap was created outside of Chicago in an effort to help college-aged students discuss theological topics in a more casual setting than the classroom. Since its inception, the program has spread across the nation and to six countries.
Last semester, the director of the Center for Worship, Fr. Joseph Mostardi, O.S.A., used the Theology on Tap national program as a model for an on-campus version geared towards underage Villanova students, Theology Untapped.
While the program was met with mild success, Mostardi decided to offer Theology on Tap this semester and was met with a much larger turn out—over 100 students attended the first two weeks at Kelly’s Taproom.
Among those students was junior Reilley Keane.
Keane has driven the Villanova van from West to Kelly’s for those first couple weeks at Kelly’s. He thinks getting speakers from Villanova adds to the community feel of the nights.
“It’s good because it’s a good informal setting to get speakers that a lot of the students actually know rather than outside speakers that kids don’t have a connection with,” Keane says.
One of the most common misconceptions about Theology on Tap is that is solely for students that are over 21 years old, when in fact any age student can attend these sessions.
Transportation is provided from West Campus to the venue for those who do not have cars, and free food and drink specials are offered for those who are over 21.
“Many times our topics provide food for thought beyond the session and can evoke interest in these themes beyond each session,” Mostardi says.
The topics discussed during Theology on Tap sessions are all related to the idea of “searching.”
Every week, new guest speakers take an hour to examine relevant areas of college-aged people’s lives—searching for answers, searching for intimacy and searching for identity have been recent topics.
Keane found the talk by Kathy Byrnes, “Searching for Intimacy,” to be especially compelling. I thought I knew what the talk would be before I came in,” Keane says. “But it wasn’t that at all.”
Instead of solely going over everything students shouldn’t do when looking for love, Byrnes encouraged them to be smart and to not do things for the wrong reasons.
“It was interesting to hear someone’s perspective from a different generation,” Keane says. “It made people think about the topic and really question their intentions about certain things.”
Typically held at Kelly’s at 8 p.m., the upcoming sessions will be held at Flip and Bailey’s and tackle the themes of searching once again with a focus on searching for love and friendship, searching for a trustworthy theology and searching for a spiritual balance.
Sometimes theological discussions outside of the classroom can feel like they’re just run of the mill lectures with a better name on it. However, students have reviewed the topics in Theology on Tap as enthralling and entertaining at the same time. They have said they feel a real connection with the subject matter.
It reaffirms the idea of conversations and thoughts formulating during classes can carry over in a social area. Mostardi looks forward to seeing where the program goes. “I look forward to coordinating both these programs off and on campus so that we can continue to help those interested deepen the knowledge of their faith and hopefully invite them into practicing their faith with the larger community on campus,” Mostardi says.
Theology on Tap provides an outlet for students who would like to explore their faith in a relaxed atmosphere and reach to see other perspectives about topics that are generally not discussed on a regular basis.
Though it may be unexpected and it might not turn into the next Quizzo night, theology may have a place in the bar after all.