FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indianas NewsCenter) - It sounds like the set up of a joke, but Thursday night, a bishop did indeed walk into a bar.
It may seem a bit unorthodox, but newly installed Bishop Kevin Rhoades has no qualms about reaching out to young adults at Columbia Street West, which is gearing up for its typically loud weekends.
"I think it's important that the church be present where our young people are. And a venue like this is great. Young people like to get together and have a beer or whatever," explained Bishop Rhoades. "Why not?"
Rhoades, who was installed as Bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese in January, was the guest speaker at a regular installment of "Theology on Tap," a regular program for young catholics to learn about their faith while making new friends.
"I think it's a really great way to meet the new bishop and hear what he has to say," said 23-year old Lindsay Klinker. "Being in a bar is just one way of reaching out to people."
Rhoades introduced himself to crowd of eager 20 and 30 somethings, and began a discussion of Saint Thomas Aquinas, one of the most influential theologians of the Catholic faith. The gathering happened to fall of the Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, a celebration of the 13th century priest.
Aquinas influenced western thought as a proponent of "natural theology," which is based upon reason and thought instead of scripture or mysticism, a fitting topic considering the crowd was largely composed of curious college students.
In a time when young people armed with questions and a need for new experiences may move away from the church more often, Bishop Rhoades says he's pleased to see such an interest in the Church.
"Sometimes after high school, young people drift away, or after college. That's fairly common," explained the bishop. "But I've noticed in recent years young people really getting involved and excited about their faith. Seeing this group here tonight, a lot of young adults who haven't fallen away from the church is very promising."
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